China is set to approve construction of 106 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants in 2022, the highest in seven years, according to research released by the Center for Clean Energy and Air (CREA) and the Global Energy Monitoring Organization (GEM). This is four times the previous year’s approvals as China aims to increase energy security. Out of the 106 GW, 50 GW of coal-fired power plants have already been built across the country, a more than 50% increase compared to the previous year.
GEM analysts said the speed at which projects are moving through the construction permit phase in 2022 is “extraordinary,” with many projects receiving funding and construction completed within a few months. New capacity connected to the electric grid has slowed in recent years after new approvals dropped in 2017-20, but it is expected to rebound in the coming years as China worries about having enough electricity.
The CREA-GEM report also revealed that several newly approved projects were identified to “support” minimum power generation capacity, aimed at ensuring grid stability and reducing the risk of power outages. The move towards more coal-fired power plants goes against China’s commitment to cut carbon emissions, but officials say the country still needs coal to meet its growing energy demand.