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China’s Coal Power Generation Jumps As Electricity Demand Soars

China’s coal-fired power generation increased last year as growing electricity demand outpaced the installations of new clean power capacity, making China the only G-20 country with rising coal generation, climate and energy think tank Ember said in its new Global Electricity Review 2021.

While wind and solar power generation led to a record fall of coal-fired generation in all other G-20 countries amid flat overall power demand due to the pandemic, China’s electricity demand increased in 2020 and had to be met by both renewable and non-renewable energy sources, with coal increasing its market share, according to Ember.

So China’s coal power generation went up by 1.7 percent in 2020, while it fell or remained flat in all other G-20 countries. Globally, coal generation saw its biggest fall on record last year, leaving China with an increasing share of global coal-fired electricity generation—up from 44 percent back in 2015 to 53 percent in 2020, Ember’s review showed.

The strong growth of China’s electricity demand has necessitated the expansion of both renewable and non-renewable power generation. Renewable generation expansion was an impressive 821 TWh, yet it was not enough to meet the robust growth in overall electricity demand in China. Coal generation also had to increase to meet that growth and accounted for 39 percent of the Chinese electricity demand growth, Ember said.

China was even experiencing coal shortages this winter, and some regions were restricting electricity use as coal imports from Australia were limited due to the energy trade war.

China announced last September that it would aim to become carbon neutral by 2060.

“The finding that newly-added renewable generation failed to meet the additional power demand highlights an additional challenge in countries like China that are experiencing high electricity demand growth. More aggressive renewable development plans and energy efficiency policy are required,” said Xunpeng Shi, President of the International Society for Energy Transition Studies, and one of the authors of Ember’s review on China.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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