Last October, the Chinese Government announced a plan to boost coal production through 2025 to avoid a repeat of last year’s power shortages, adding to setbacks in efforts to cut climate-changing carbon emissions from the biggest global source.
Chinese Coal Production to Rise
Regardless China’s major investments in renawable, clean energy (Wind & Solar), the Government called for more coal-fired power after economic growth slumped down last year and shortages caused blackouts. That prompted warnings that carbon emissions will rise faster through 2030, when a peak is expected.
The Government aims for the annual coal production to rise by 12% to 4.6 billion tons in 2025, a deputy director of the Cabinet’s National Energy Administration said at a press conference.
Last year’s total energy use increased 5.2% over 2020 after a revival of global demand for Chinese exports propelled a manufacturing boom, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Ensuring an adequate power supply is especially sensitive after economic growth slowed down to 2.2% over a last year, less than half the official target of 5.5%.
The Challenges of Relying on Renewable Energy Sources
The challenges of relying on renewable sources were highlighted by a dry summer that left reservoirs in China's southwest too low to generate hydropower. That forced power cuts in the Sichuan province and the major city of Chongqing.
Authorities are hoping to avoid repeats of this energy crisis but there are concerns that increased coal production will hamper China’s ability to meet its promises on emissions reductions.
China accounted for about half of global investment in Wind & Solar in 2020. Beijing has spent tens of billions of dollars on Wind & Solar farms to reduce reliance on imported Oil & Gas and clean up its smog-choked cities. However, China’s electricity system still relies overwhelmingly on coal-fired power, using more than 50% of the total national supply, according to a research paper published on Nature last June.
“Although China already features the world’s largest installed power generation capacity for renewable energy, a profound transformation of the power system will still be required over the next 30 years to achieve carbon emission goals,” the journal wrote.
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