China Approved More Coal Power in First Three Months of 2023 Than in All of 2021

A coal-fired power plant in Henan Province, China.

A coal-fired power plant in Henan Province, China. V.T. Polywoda via Flickr

Provincial governments in China approved more new coal power in the first three months of this year than they did in all of 2021, according to a new analysis from Greenpeace.

“The 2022 coal boom has clearly continued into this year,” Greenpeace campaigner Xie Wenwen said in statement. For the analysis, Greenpeace scanned project approvals, environmental reviews, and other documents, finding that provinces have authorized the construction of more than 20 gigawatts of coal power from January through March, after approving more than 90 gigawatts of coal power last year.

The planned coal additions stand at odds with China’s aim to hit peak emissions by the end of this decade. Coal approvals cited the need to provide a steady supply of power and meet growing demand for electricity. But China is not short on power supply, Xie said. To curb reliance on coal and speed transition to clean energy, China needs to build more transmission lines and energy storage to allow the grid to be more flexible in meeting demand, experts say.

“Continuing to throw coal at the inefficiencies in China’s energy system is a dead end,” Xie said. “And it risks climate disasters, financial burden, and locking us into a high-carbon pathway.”


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