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.
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“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.”