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China must shut down by 2045 at the latest all coal power plants operating without carbon capture if Beijing is to meet its goal to become “carbon neutral” by 2060, researchers said on Thursday.
The new report, published today by Energy Foundation China, features contributions from 21 authors from 8 different organizations, and was led by Energy Foundation China and coordinated by the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.
“Through an immediate halt of new construction of coal-fired power plants, rapid retirements of a small portion of old, dirty, inefficient coal plants in the near term, and gradually reduced utilization for operating plants, China can phase out coal power generation without CCUS by around 2040-2045, when the majority of existing plants reach a 30- year lifetime,” the authors of the report wrote.
“Taking actions like phasing out coal power in lieu of renewable energy or transitioning to low-carbon transportation will support other development goals such as improved air quality and international science and technology leadership,” Leon Clarke, Research Director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, said in a statement.
Yet, coal continues to play an essential role in China’s energy mix, accounting for 58 percent of China’s total primary energy consumption in 2019. China, the world’s top coal consumer, uses a lot of coal in electricity generation, steel and cement production, chemicals, and buildings, the report said.
China needs to start phasing out coal now if it wants to meet its carbon-neutrality goals, but this could be a challenge in the near term because many regions in the country rely heavily on coal for economic activity and employment, according to the report.
China continues to approve coal-fired capacity, contributing to the rise in the world’s net capacity additions of coal-fired power generation in 2019 for the first time since 2015.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com