China on track to reach peak coal use, coal-fired capacity and emissions by 2025: energy expert
- Peking University energy researcher says China could go ahead with some of its planned coal projects with advanced technology to replace outmoded tech
- Power sector emissions could peak by 2025 at 4.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, says global energy researcher
Kang Junjie, deputy director of the university’s climate change and energy transition programme, said China’s coal consumption and power sector carbon emissions could peak by 2025.
He expects China’s peak installed coal-fired power capacity to hit 1,150 gigawatts by 2025, up from 1,095GW last year.
These targets are in line with President Xi Jinping’s commitment at the virtual climate summit of world leaders in late April that China would hit peak coal consumption by 2025.
China’s National Energy Administration had earlier said China would accelerate the development of renewable energy during the 14th five-year plan period for 2021-25, with renewable power accounting for over half of total installed capacity by 2025. Renewables made up 42.4 per cent of the total capacity at the end of last year, or 934GW. Two-thirds of China’s power consumption growth during the 14th five-year plan would be supplied by renewables.
“These targets have set a strict boundary for the 14th five-year plan [on energy],” Kang told a seminar on April 28.
Kang estimated that China’s wind and solar power capacity would increase 550GW by 2025, with another 50GW increase from gas, 100GW from hydropower, 20GW from nuclear and 20GW from biomass.
“Under this scenario, the installed capacity of renewables will account for 51 per cent of the total capacity and renewable energy will account for 66.5 per cent of the increase in power consumption, which will well achieve Beijing’s target,” he said.
By the end of last year, China had 281.5GW wind generation capacity and 253.4GW solar generation capacity, according to the National Energy Administration. In addition to its installed coal power capacity of 1,095GW by 2020, China had 100GW capacity either under construction or approved for construction.
“It’s a big waste to shut down these 100GW capacities. I think we should build these plants,” said Kang.
He added China could build 20GW of coal capacity for new technology applications and advancement during the 14th five-year plan period but needed to phase down 50GW of outdated technologies. By doing this, the installed capacity of coal power could peak at 1,150GW by 2025.
Energy experts generally agree that the carbon emissions of the power sector could reach their peak by 2025, but some suggest China should have stricter control on the building of new coal power plants in the following years.
Yang Fuqiang, a research fellow with Peking University’s Institute of Energy, said China should not approve new coal power projects during the 14th five-year plan in principle. But he added that it could add 10GW of coal capacity for new technology applications and advancement if needed.
Yang Fang, a research fellow with the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organisation, a non-governmental international organisation, said emissions of the power sector could reach a peak by 2025 at 4.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial activities totalled 11.5 billion tonnes in 2019 in China and about 40 per cent of the emissions are from the power sector.
“The power sector has the condition to reach peak emissions earlier and it will play a fundamental role for the whole society to reach peak emissions,” Yang said.