Coal is a nonrenewable fossil fuel that is used by most countries in the West as well as Asia to generate electricity. When burnt, this fuel produces carbon dioxide, which contributes greatly to global climate change by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere and in turn warming the planet.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace released a report confirming that China recently approved the construction of about 8.6GW of coal power in the first quarter of 2022, which represents almost one-half of the amount recorded last year. This approval comes as climate concerns increase amid rising global temperatures and dangerous weather events.
China had pledged to control power capacity from coal in the 2021–2025 period as it worked to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. However, increasing worries about energy supply, which were partly caused by a series of power outages last year, have triggered more approvals.
In a research report, the environmental campaigning organization stated that the country’s provincial authorities had approved more coal power construction in an effort to sort out shortcomings in power generation. The environment group’s climate and energy campaigner, Wu Jinghan, who is based in Beijing, stated that energy security had become a code name for coal instead of referring to reliable energy supply. The National Energy Administration in China is yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter.
During the international climate talks held in Glasgow in 2021, the country’s plans to construct coal power plants were a point of contention, with most nations agreeing to gradually reduce their use of coal, instead of phasing it out completely. Currently, Beijing, which is the capital of China, is the biggest user and producer of coal. The city has pledged to begin reducing coal consumption after 2025. However, researchers with the State Grid have revealed that 150 gigawatts of new coal power capacity may have been constructed before then.
Additionally, recent forecasts from the country’s Electricity Council show that by 2025, the total power generation capacity of China is expected to have reached 3,000 gigawatts. Fossil fuel energy sources will make up almost 50% of this figure, which implies a 260 gigawatt increase in natural gas and coal-fired power, in comparison to the end of 2021.
Wu argued that even though China was accelerating solar and wind power construction, constructing more coal capacity would make it harder for renewable energy projects to access the power grids and reach consumers.
China isn’t the only country where there is a resurgence in the use of coal. Established coal miners such as Alliance Resource Partners L.P (NASDAQ: ARLP) are seeing the volumes of orders for coal rising with each passing month as the energy shortage deepens.
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