China has relaxed its commitment to coal-fired power generation capacity expansion as part of the country’s promised energy transition to a mix led by renewables.
In the first half of this year, the government has reduced newly-approved coal-fired units in the pipeline to 5.2 GW, down by 78.8% from the same period last year, the non-government environment organisation Greenpeace said in its latest research report on Wednesday.
Of the country’s 34 provinces, cities and autonomous regions, 23 have applied their coal-fired power generation plants for approval with capacity totaling 104.8 GW. Most of these projects are located in the coal-rich Shaanxi, Guangdong, Gansu and Guizhou provinces.
Most of the new coal-fired power projects are located in the coal-rich Shaanxi and Anhui provinces, the report said, based on new projects announced by provincial governments.
The bulk of the new projects were sanctioned in February and March this year, but approval of such projects tapered off after April when the Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged to curb capacity expansion of coal-fired power projects
By the end of last year, China owned and operated 1000 GW of coal-fired power generation capacity, accounting for 49.07% of the country’s total.
The curb on coal-based power expansion leaves room for the fast-track development of renewable energy capacity in the first half of 2021 as the country marches towards a goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.
The data released by the country’s energy watchdog, the National Energy Administration (NEA), shows that in the first half this year, the country raised its renewable energy-fired power generation capacity by 4%, compared with the end of last year, to 971 gigawatts.
This figure includes 281GW of onshore wind power, 11.13GW of offshore wind power, 268GW of solar power, 378GW of hydropower and 32.1GW of bio power.
Over the first half of 2021, China's renewable energy generation reached 1.06 trillion kilowatt hours, the NEA said without giving a comparative figure.
Of that total, 344.18 billion Kwhs was produced via wind turbines, up by 44.6%; solar generated 157.6 billion Kwhs, up 23.4%; bio energy units churned out 77.95 billion Kwhs, up 26.6%; and 482.7 billion Kwhs was produced by hydro.
The NEA did not report on the status of the country’s gas-fired power generation, but according to China Electricity Council, by the end of last year, China owned and operated 98.02GW of gas-fired power generation, which accounted for about 5% of China’s total power generation capacity.
These turbines produced 248.5 billion Kwhs of electricity last year, which is about 3% of the national total.
China's national plan calls for further raising the country's total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1200 GW by 2030.