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China is adding coal plants to tackle energy security concerns, but this doesn’t mean it is backing away from its previously stated emissions curbs, Chinese delegates said at the COP27 summit this week.
China may be adding new coal plants to prevent a repeat poor performance from recent years that triggered electricity shortages in the Asian nation, but these coal plants will serve as a buffer to volatile global energy markets in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s delegates said.
Previous figures from a senior researcher at State Grid of China Corp Energy Research Institute estimated China’s coal expansion would total 270GW of new plants through 2025—more than what the United States has now.
Eventually, China’s rise in coal use will be halted when its electricity market reforms and increases in renewable power and energy storage kick in. China is still planning on reaching peak emissions by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2060, they said.
But for now, coal use is an unfortunate necessity if the country wants to keep from following in its own footsteps in prior years, and in the EU’s current footsteps that have left it wondering if it’s going to make it through this winter and next without serious power blackouts.
“We don’t want to be like Europe and transform at the cost of energy security. They are now declaring that they are taking a step back in order to take two steps forward later,” Li Zheng, climate change and energy professor at Tsinghua University, said, adding that China needed an energy transition plan that was secure so that it could be sustained.
But some climate scientists are not satisfied with this explanation for the increased coal use, arguing that 2040 is the drop-dead date for phasing out coal if the planet hopes to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
It should be noted that China also holds the world’s largest fleet of renewable power generation, according to BloombergNEF figures.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.