[Marxism] China ramps up coal power in face of emissions efforts

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 20 09:17:50 MST 2019

(What was that about an "ecological civilization" again?)

FT.com, Nov. 20, 2019
China ramps up coal power in face of emissions efforts
Study shows new plants being added equivalent to entire capacity of EU
Leslie Hook in London

China is set to add new coal-fired power plants equivalent to the EU’s 
entire capacity, as the world’s biggest energy consumer ignores global 
pressure to rein in carbon emissions in its bid to boost a slowing economy.

Across the country, 148GW of coal-fired plants are either being built or 
are about to begin construction, according to a report from Global 
Energy Monitor, a non-profit group that monitors coal stations. The 
current capacity of the entire EU coal fleet is 149GW.

While the rest of the world has been largely reducing coal-powered 
capacity over the past two years, China is building so much coal power 
that it more than offsets the decline elsewhere.

Ted Nace, head of Global Energy Monitor, said the new coal plants would 
have a significant impact on China’s already-increasing carbon emissions.

“What is being built in China is single-handedly turning what would be 
the beginning of the decline of coal, into the continued growth of 
coal,” he said, adding that China was “swamping” global progress in 
bringing down emissions.

Concerns over air pollution and over-investment in coal prompted China 
to suspend construction of hundreds of coal stations in 2016. But many 
have since been restarted, as Beijing seeks to stimulate an economy 
growing at its slowest pace since the early 1990s.

Pressure has been growing on China, the world’s largest emitter, to 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have been creeping up since 2016, 
and hit a record high last year.

China has pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 as part 
of the Paris climate agreement. However, a number of countries including 
the EU, have been urging China to move that date forward.

The report shows the pace of new construction starts of Chinese coal 
stations rose 5 per cent in the first half of 2019, against the same 
period last year. About 121GW of coal power is actively under 
construction in China, slightly lower than the same point a year ago.

Yet this figure still dwarfs the pace of new construction elsewhere. 
Last year China’s net additions to its coal fleet were 25.5GW, while the 
rest of the world saw a net decline of 2.8GW as more plants were closed 
than were built.

The renewed push into coal has been driven by Chinese energy companies 
desperate to gain market share and by local governments who view coal 
plants as a source of jobs and investment. While electricity demand in 
China rose 8.5 per cent last year, the current grid is already 
oversupplied and coal stations are utilised only about half the time.

“The utilisation of coal-fired power plants will reach a record low this 
year, so there is no justification to build these coal plants,” said 
Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and 
Clean Air, a think-tank. “But that is not the logic that investment 
follows in China . . . There is little regard for the long-term 
economics of the investments that are being made.

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