China generated over half world's coal-fired power in 2020, study says

Reuters
Beijing, China Published: Mar 29, 2021, 11:25 AM(IST)

Coal-fired plants in China Photograph:( Reuters )

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Although China added a record 71.7 gigawatts (GW) of wind power and 48.2 GW of solar last year, it was the only G20 nation to see a significant jump in coal-fired generation, according to research from Ember, a London-based energy and climate research group.

China generated 53% of the world`s total coal-fired power in 2020, nine percentage points more that five years earlier, despite climate pledges and the building of hundreds of renewable energy plants, a global data study showed on Monday.

Although China added a record 71.7 gigawatts (GW) of wind power and 48.2 GW of solar last year, it was the only G20 nation to see a significant jump in coal-fired generation, according to research from Ember, a London-based energy and climate research group.

China`s coal-fired generation rose by 1.7% or 77 terawatt-hours, enough to bring its share of total global coal power to 53%, up from 44% in 2015, the report showed.

The country has promised to reduce its dependence on coal in a bid to bring emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gas to a peak before 2030 and become "carbon neutral" by 2060.

"China is like a big ship, and it takes time to turn in another direction," said Muyi Yang, senior analyst with Ember and one of the report`s authors.

China has so far been unable to find enough clean energy to meet rapid increases in electricity demand. Renewables met only around half of China`s power consumption growth last year.

New coal-fired power installations reached 38.4 GW in 2020, more than three times the amount built by the rest of the world, according to a February research report.

China has steadily reduced the share of coal in total energy consumption from around 70% a decade ago to 56.8% last year. But absolute generation volumes still rose 19% over the 2016-2020 period, Ember calculated.

In its 2021-2025 five-year plan, China vowed to "rationally control the scale and pace of development in the construction of coal-fired power," and Yang said tougher measures could follow.

"I think there will be a cap on coal consumption, and that will have a major impact on the future trajectory for coal power," he said.

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