China’s investment in building new coal and other thermal power plants hit a 14-year low last year, down to ¥78.6 billion (US$11.35 billion) across the fossil sector and ¥6.44 billion ($930 million) for the most polluting fuel of all.
The totals represent an 8.3% reduction for all thermal plants and 8.8% for coal since 2017, and 28% of the country’s overall spending on new power generation, Reuters reports. The figures come from the China Electricity Council, the official association of power generators, plant builders, and equipment manufacturers.
“Total power investment fell 3.9% on the year to ¥278.7 billion. Spending on hydropower construction rose 12.7% to ¥70 billion, while nuclear investment inched down 1.6% to ¥44.7 billion,” Reuters states. “However, policies aimed at curbing overcapacity and tackling a subsidy payment shortfall meant that solar power investment plummeted 27.4% to ¥20.7 billion in 2018, while wind power also dropped 5.2% to ¥64.6 billion.”China is aiming to bring coal down to 58% of its electricity mix next year and 50 to 53% by 2025, compared to 68.5% in 2012, in a bid to reduce its dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Reuters cites a recent study indicating the country “had resumed construction on more than 50 gigawatts (GW) of suspended coal-fired power projects last year, and warned China could still build an additional 290 GW of capacity.”