China’s National Energy Administration has announced the suspension of 104 planned and under-construction coal power projects, with a total capacity of 120 gigawatts, in a move which serves to back President Xi Jinping’s commitments to step into a global clean energy leadership role.
Today bore a panoply of news from China, with news that China had installed 34 gigawatts (GW) of solar in 2016 being announced at the same time as Chinese President Xi addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, claiming that China is willing to step into a leadership role in combating climate change. In addition, to cement the words of President Xi, the Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) announced that it had suspended 104 planned and under-construction coal power projects totaling 120 GW.
Greenpeace’s Energydesk has translated the announcement, in which the NEA has committed to suspending numerous coal power projects. As part of the overall 120 GW, 54 GW is already under construction — signalling further a strong commitment to match actions to words.
The use of coal in China has received heavy attention and criticism over the years, however in recent times China has begun cracking down on coal power plants and signalling heavy cuts. In October of last year, China halted construction on 30 coal power plants totaling 17 GW, ten of which were already under construction. In December, new research from China showed that China might be aiming to phase out coal imports altogether. China’s 13th Five Year Plan also committed to a coal capacity cap of 1,100 GW — though that still remained a sizable increase on the already 920 GW worth of coal the country has installed.
Nevertheless, analysis from Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) of China’s 13th Five Year Plan highlighted the possibility that the country was on the verge of wasting $490 billion on unnecessary coal plants. At the time of the report in November, 2016, CTI reported that China had 895 GW worth of operating coal capacity and another 205 GW of capacity under construction. The analysis found that there was a significant chance that up to 210 GW worth of coal capacity might be completely unnecessary in 2020, if things continued apace.
In the end we are expecting great things from China, with massive levels of renewable energy installed being matched by big cuts to fossil fuel power plants.