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'Wasteful and counter-productive': China's Zhejiang greenlights new £800m coal-fired power plant

A new 7bn yuan (£800m) coal-fired power plant has been given the go-ahead for the eastern Chinese coastal province of Zhejiang, the state firm managing the project confirmed on Wednesday.

The Zhejiang Energy Group said the Phase 2 Project of the Liuheng Power Plant would help balance energy supply and demand in the province, as well as serve the province’s low carbon-transition.

With generation rates at 254 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour – lower than the national average of 302.5 g/kwh – the project will improve energy efficiency, the group said.

But the references to the higher thermal efficiency “obfuscate the fact that coal power, no matter how efficient, is still by far the highest-emitting form of power generation,” said analyst Lauri Myllyvirta from Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), referring to the amount of greenhouse gases forms of power generation emit.


“Consigning coal to history” was a key goal for the UK as it hosted last November’s COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, where more than 40 new countries pledged to phase-out coal fired power.

China, by far the world’s largest coal consumer, has come under fire for its plan to peak its coal consumption in 2025. Only then will it begin to phase down coal, President Xi Jinping said last year.

However, the world’s largest emitter of climate-heating gases has pledged to stop funding new coal plants abroad.

More on China

“Despite the very impressive scale of clean energy investment in China, clean energy growth has still been inadequate to cover the rapid increase in electricity consumption,” said Mr Myllyvirta.

“The vast majority of coal-fired power plants will have to be phased out by 2050 to meet China’s carbon neutrality targets, making the addition of new plants wasteful and counter-productive,” he added.

Researchers with the State Grid Corporation expect another 150 GW of new coal-fired power capacity to be built over the 2021-2025 period, bringing the total to 1,230 GW.

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Over 40 countries are pledging to move away from coal, but some of the world’s biggest coal-burning countries did not sign up.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 8.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.


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