China’s demand for coal power is growing so fast, the country will build a new coal power plant every week until at least 2020, according to analysis published Wednesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Of the 2,400 coal-fired power plants under construction or being planned around the world, 1,171 will be built in China. This rapid growth of coal power means that, mathematically, Chinese carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are unlikely to stop rising. Such a rapid rise in Chinese CO2 emissions will more than cancel out the rest of the world’s CO2 cuts. At the same time, China is slashing its investment in wind and solar power.
“[Chinese] clean energy investment will be down 15 to 20 percent this year,” Michael Liebreich, the founder of BNEF, told Bloomberg. “As things stand, it will not bounce back to a new record in the next five years…If Asia keeps building coal-fired power stations, then there is no way of sticking within a carbon budget consistent with 2 degrees.”
Chinese wind and solar is slowing relative to coal because the Chinese government has already stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions, according to a March statement by China’s National Energy Administration. These regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined. A single gigawatt of electricity is enough to power 700,000 homes. Government statistics show that 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind power, or about 15 percent of all Chinese wind power, was wasted in 2015 alone.
Consumption of coal in China has already grown by a factor of three from 2000 to 2013. The country consumes approximately half of all coal used worldwide and gets roughly 66 percent of its electricity from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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