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China to Build 200 Gigawatts (GW) of Coal-Fired Power

July 13, 2016 at 17:33 by Andrew Moran

Despite having an estimated 200 gigawatts (GW) of excess capacity, China is building another 200 GW of coal-fired power capacity. Even with tough new measures currently in place to reduce overcapacity and the overuse of fossil fuels, China is moving ahead with more coal-fired power.

New data from the National Energy Administration (NEA) suggest that China’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Bounce House total thermal capacity rose 7.8% last year to 990 GW. This is much more than the 0.5% jump in energy consumption by Chinese households and businesses, which is the lowest increase in close to 40 years.

In the first five months of 2016, 24 GW of coal-fired power began operation.

This report comes as China has pledged to cut its coal production capacity by 500 million tonnes until 2021 in order to diminish its horrific air pollution levels.

The nation’s thermal power sector, which has been controlled by coal, continues expanding even with sluggish energy consumption trends. Environmental experts have wondered why China is letting this happen. Many have referred to China’s efforts, citing the state’s attempts to fight smog, slash carbon emissions, and invest in alternative forms of energy, including solar and wind.

Because energy consumption demands have slowed down, environmental organization Greenpeace warns that approximately $150 billion could be “wasted” from the excess capacity over the next five years. Activists are urging Chinese officials to apply the government’s safety and environmental standards on coal producers, though many say that is unlikely to happen since new plants have been constructed in the last year.

Analysts believe that Chinese coal producers are attempting to take advantage of the 2016 highs in coal prices. Thermal coal prices spiked 10% this month to a fresh 2016 high of $58.70 per tonne last week. Coal prices have been soaring this year because of strong demand from Asian jurisdictions and supply disruptions unfolding in Colombia and India.

Over the last few years, the international community has agreed on reducing the use of coal to generate power. A June report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that coal consumed to produce US power fell in April to its lowest monthly level since 1978.

There has been a growing global shift to natural gas, nuclear power, and green energy, like wind and solar.

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