Climate change

China to cap use of coal at 55 per cent of total power output by 2020

Burning of the fuel to generate electricity one of the biggest causes of air pollution on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:56pm

China aims to cap coal-fired power generating capacity at 1,100 gigawatts by 2020, higher than the current ceiling but accounting for less of the country’s total power supply as the top global energy market seeks to increase the use of cleaner renewable fuels.

Announcing its five-year plan for the power industry, the National Energy Administration said on Monday it aimed to have 2,000 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity by 2020, of which at least 320 gigawatts would come from solar and wind power and 110 gigawatts from natural gas.

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The administration said that as part of its long-term plan to shift to clean power China would eliminate or delay at least 150 gigawatt of coal-fired power projects between 2016 and 2020.

The new ceiling for coal output is up from 960 gigawatts in a previous five-year plan for the period to 2015, but it will put the share coal in the total at more than 50 per cent, down from over two-thirds.

Analysts, however, said that it was still relatively high.

The government may have to cut the target as manufacturers shift to cleaner fuels and Beijing encourages expansion of renewables, said Zhou Dadi, vice-chairman of the China Energy Research Society. “We are ... seeing coal-fired power projects are being delayed in some provinces due to overall slower demand. The government targeted numbers would not encourage more investment into coal-fired utilities.”

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Total power consumption will reach between 6.8 trillion and 7.2 trillion kilowatt hour by 2020, up from 5.69 trillion by the end last year.