China’s plans for 155 new coal-fired power and heating plants

Just outside the south-west border of Beijing, a new coal-fired power and heating plant is rising in Dongxianpo, a rural town in Hebei province. Cement mixers roll onto the site. Cranes tower above a landscape of metal girders.

When it’s finished, the plant, run by a company owned by the Beijing government, is expected to have a massive generating capacity of 700 megawatts of power. But whether it will actually be used to its fullest is questionable, despite the investment of $US580 million ($820 million).

That is because the plant is scheduled to come online in three years amid a glut of coal-fired power plants – an astounding 155 planned projects received a permit this year alone, with total capacity equal to nearly 40 percent of that of operational coal power plants in the United States.

China’s economic slowdown and the government’s pledges to use more renewable and nuclear energy make some of the country’s existing plants and most or all of the 155 new ones unnecessary, according to interviews with officials and scholars, a review of public statistics and a report released on Wednesday about the “coal power bubble” by Greenpeace East Asia. There are already too many plants, as shown by a steady decline in the plants’ average operating hours since 2013.

The Age: Edward Wong: 12 Nov 2015-11-14

Key Words: Climate Change, international
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