China Sets Coal Consumption Standards For Power Plants

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China is taking serious initiatives to reduce dependence on coal as it looks ready to unleash unprecedented measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Shuozhou coal power plant China
2,000 MW Shentou Second Power Plant in Shuozhou, China

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is spearheading efforts to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants and has, in collaboration with the National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Environment Protection, issued coal consumption standards.

The standards are part of China’s climate change plan for 2020. As part of the plan, 10 GW of inefficient coal-fired power plants will be closed while about 350 GW capacity will be required to improve operational efficiency.

Additionally, new coal power plants will be have to restrict their average coal consumption to 310 grams per kWh of electricity generated. The limit for existing power plants will be 315 grams per kWh generated.

These standards and measures are aimed at reducing the share of coal-based electricity to less than 62%. Coal-based power plants currently constitute 69% of China’s installed capacity. These new measures to reduce coal consumption at power plants are the latest in a long series of other initiatives.

The NDRC has, in the past, directed all provinces to significantly reduce their coal consumption. It has divided China’s 2020 carbon intensity reduction targets among provinces to push them to take appropriate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this year, Beijing announced that consumption of coal will be fully banned in the city’s inner six districts, while it will be reduced by 80% in the outer ten districts by 2020. The ban also covers other fossil fuels such as fuel oil and coke.

Beijing’s coal consumption in 2012 was around 27 million tonnes, providing for 25% of the city’s total energy consumption. The local government aims to reduce the consumption to less than 10 million tonnes by 2017. To help power producers make the source switch, the local government has offered subsidies for using natural gas to generate power.

Beijing, in addition to six other jurisdictions, has an operational emissions trading scheme that covers more than 400 entities operating in the city. The scheme is reported to have been highly successful with almost 100% compliance rate reported during the first year. China aims to have a national-level emissions trading scheme operational before the end of the decade.

The policy initiatives implemented by the Chinese authorities have yielded positive results. Between 2008 and 2013, the country managed to reduce its carbon intensity by 28.5% equivalent to 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, the Chinese government had revealed earlier this month.

Image credit: Kleineolive | CC BY-SA 3.0

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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