Despite warnings from scientists that the world must rapidly cut coal use in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, China approved more new coal plants in 2022 than at any point in the last seven years.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM) released Monday, which found that China had approved new plants at a rate of two per week for a total of 106 gigawatts (GW) for the year.
“The speed at which projects progressed through permitting to construction in 2022 was extraordinary, with many projects sprouting up, gaining permits, obtaining financing and breaking ground apparently in a matter of months,” GEM research analyst Flora Champenois said, as The Washington Post reported. “China continues to be the glaring exception to the ongoing global decline in coal plant development.”
50 GW of coal power capacity started construction in China in 2022, +50% increase from 2021. Many of these projects had their permits fast-tracked & moved to construction in months. 106 GW of new coal power projects were permitted – equivalent to two large coal power plants/week. pic.twitter.com/mOE77iWfB3
— Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (@CREACleanAir) February 27, 2023
Yet coal is China’s major stumbling block on the road to its energy transition. While the country is installing renewable energy at impressive speeds — it broke a record for new solar capacity added last year — it struggles to quit coal. It broke a record for coal outputs in 2022 as well. And the groundwork laid in new projects is not promising.