Electricity thanks to fossil fuels: China pushed ahead with the construction of new coal-fired power plants last year. According to a report by the Finnish Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Global Energy Monitor (GEM), the number of newly approved plants was the highest since 2015. The climate experts see the climate protection goals of the government in Beijing in danger.
"The speed at which projects progressed from approval to construction in 2022 has been exceptional," said GEM analyst Flora Champenois. "China continues to be the glaring exception to the global slowdown in coal-fired power plant expansion."
The coal-fired capacity that China began building in 2022 is six times the new coal-fired capacity in the rest of the world.
China's President Xi Jinping has announced that his country will reduce its carbon emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060. China is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, so climate protectionists attach immense importance to the project. CREA and GEM have now warned that the massive expansion of coal-fired power plants will make it significantly more difficult to achieve the 2060 target.
To date, coal-fired power has covered around 60 percent of China's demand. Most of the newly approved power plants will be in provinces that have suffered power shortages over the past two years as a result of record heat waves. The climate experts see this as a vicious circle, since the extreme weather phenomena are related to climate change, which in turn is boosted by the greenhouse gas from the power plants.
China is also investing massively in the expansion of renewable energies. The authorities also state that the new coal-fired power plants are primarily intended to protect against failures in the event of bottlenecks and to stabilize the grid. However, the study by CREA and GEM shows that many of the new power plants are being built in the very provinces that are lagging behind in the expansion of renewables.