China accounted for more than half of new coal power station capacity built globally last year, even as overall power capacity from the fossil fuel shrank worldwide, a new study has shown.
The report found that after rising in 2020 for the first time since 2015, total coal power capacity under development declined 13% last year, from 525 gigawatts (GW) to 457 GW, a record low.
Globally, 34 countries have new coal plants under consideration, down from 41 in January 2021.
According to Global Energy Monitor’s eighth annual survey of the coal plant pipeline, construction of new coal-fired plants is occurring mostly in Asia, with China accounting for 52% of the 176 gigawatts of capacity under construction in 20 countries last year.
Nearly 200 countries pledged a“phasing down”of coal at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year. But steeper cuts are needed and no more new coal projects can be built if climate goals are to be met.
One of the report’s authors, Lauri Myllyvirta at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said China would not change course on coal, but its promise last year to stop financing overseas projects had already seen 13 GW of coal-fired plants cancelled.
“China’s ‘no new coal overseas’ policy has already had a significant impact on the coal power pipeline in the rest of the world,” Myllyvirta said.
The newest National Development and Reform Commission guidelines also have the potential to stop another 37 GW of China-backed coal projects overseas in the pre-construction phase.
- George Russell
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