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China’s new coal power spree continues as more provinces jump on the bandwagon

Jul 04, 2023

Coal power continues to expand in China, despite the government’s pledges and goals. In the first half of 2023, construction was started on 37 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity, 52 GW was permitted, while 41 GW of new projects were announced and 8 GW of previously shelved projects were revived. Of the permitted projects, 10 GW of capacity has already moved to construction.

Permitting continued apace in the second quarter and in some provinces, newly permitted power plants are moving rapidly into construction, while in others, developers might be securing permits “just in case” and not hurrying to break ground. Of plants permitted in 2022, about half (52 GW) had started construction by summer 2023.

After the permitting spree of the past year, China now has 243 GW of coal-fired capacity currently permitted and under construction.

If the permitting rush is not stopped until projects that are currently announced or in pre-permit stages have gained permits as well, there will be a total of 392 GW of new coal-fired power capacity in the pipeline.

Unless permitting is stopped immediately, China won’t be able to reduce coal-fired power capacity during the 15th five-year plan without subsequent cancellations of already permitted projects or massive early retirement of existing plants.

29 August 2023

Flora Champenois, Research Analyst, Global Energy Monitor (GEM); Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA); Qi Qin, China Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA); Xing Zhang, Researcher, Global Energy Monitor (GEM)

Partners: Global Energy Monitor (GEM)


About the dataReuters South China Morning Post (SCMP)