China is still on track to “waste” ¥1 trillion (US$150 billion) on 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity it doesn’t need, Greenpeace reported last week, notwithstanding the country’s widely-announced plans to shut down many of its older coal plants and cap capacity at about 1,050 GW by late 2020.
“Greenpeace said the measures would see 110 GW of coal-fired power projects suspended and up to 70 GW retired by 2020, but changes to permitting last year meant there were still another 295 units under construction, with a total capacity of 200 GW,” Reuters reports. “Moves to cut central government red tape last year gave local authorities the power to build new plants without having to seek approval from Beijing, leading to a construction surge.”
That’s in spite of a nation-wide coal generation surplus already estimated at 200 GW.
“China’s worsening coal overcapacity crisis is acting as a dead weight on the country’s ongoing energy transition,” said Greenpeace coal campaigner Lauri Myllyvirt.
“China has acknowledged the severity of the problem, and has already set up a ‘warning system’ for provinces on overcapacity,” Reuters notes. “The energy regulator reiterated in a document published on Tuesday that it would strictly control the pace of construction for coal-fired power.”