China has vowed to cap the nation’s coal-fired capacity at 1 100Gw and its active coal mines to 5 000 sites by the year’s end.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it would decommission outdated and inferior coal-fired power units, while it would still approve new coal plants provided their contribution fell within the new capacity and met the revised standards.
The announcement comes three weeks after Beijing said it was on track to keep its coal usage to 4.2 billion tonnes in 2020.
The Red Dragon is the world’s hungriest coal consumer and accounts for nearly half (49%) of the planet’s coal consumption, says the US Energy Information Administration. China had 5 268 active coal mines open last year, and its installed grip capacity was at 1 040Gw.
While China has declared itself on track to meet its Paris 2015 climate accord agreement to reach ‘peak emissions’ by 2030, the world’s second-largest economy is depending on heavy industry to patch an economy hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic.
China’s steel production hit record highs in May, after Covid-based restrictions in China were relaxed. The metal depends heavily on coal for its production. The full-scale resumption of China’s heavy industry saw steel and crude steel production increase by 8.5% in April.
Researchers conducting a study for the China Coal Consumption Cap Plan and Policy Research Project have warned the government about excessive coal use. The government think-tank established in late May has said more aggressive measures to keep coal consumption in check will be needed to meet China’s more ambitious goal of keeping total coal consumption nationwide to under 3.5 billion tonnes.
The NDRC said it would continue its support of renewable energy in China provided the energy created could be installed directly into the national grid.
In further efforts to keep coal consumption in line with government ideals, China has set quotas for each of its provinces’ minimum renewable energy consumption for the year.
China is still on track to achieve an installed grid capacity of 340Gw of hydropower and wind and solar power to contribute around 240Gw to the national grid for 2020.
China’s efforts to turn its back on coal, or at least dramatically limit its use, does not bode well for BRICS ally South Africa, which has already seen exports of coal drop by 14% year on year in March, according to Dry Cargo International.