China sharply increased its coal production in 2022. The country approved four times as many new coal-fired power plants last year as in 2021.
China has given permission in 2022 to increase coal-derived power capacity by 106 gigawatts. This is the largest increase in capacity since 2015, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM).
Construction of new Chinese coal-fired power plants, which together produce about 50 gigawatts of electricity, has already begun. “China remains the stark exception in light of the global decline in coal-fired power plant construction,” a GEM analyst said. “The speed at which projects have moved from the permitting phase to the construction phase in 2022 has been extraordinary.”
The flurry of approvals for the construction of coal-fired power plants follows severe power shortages in the summer of 2022, when extreme drought dried up needed hydroelectric reservoirs and heat increased demand for air conditioning. As a result, many of the recently approved projects are designed as a basic “backup” capability to minimize the risk of power outages, the report said.
But many new coal-fired power plants are being built in areas that have excess capacity, the report’s authors point out. They believe that China can better solve its electricity supply problems by improving the reliability and efficiency of its existing power grid.
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