China to speed up construction of coal power plants this year

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China is planning to accelerate construction of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants this year, even as massive investment in renewables means clean power will dominate generation capacity.

Some 70 gigawatts of fossil fuel capacity will be added in 2023, up from 40 gigawatts last year, according to a report released Thursday by the China Electricity Council, the power sector’s top lobbying group.

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The target comes as Beijing places more emphasis on energy security due to power shortages and volatile global fuel prices.

Renewable energy will grow even faster, however, with 100 gigawatts of new solar and 65 gigawatts of wind expected, according to the council.

By year-end, clean electricity is forecast to make up more than 52 percent of China’s total power capacity, compared with 49.6 percent at the end of 2022. That was slightly short of the council’s prediction last year that it would be a 50-50 split.

Electricity demand is also forecast to rebound to growth of around 6 percent this year, up from 3.6 percent in 2022, as the economy recovers following the lifting of Covid restrictions. The expected increase in consumption means the power balance will be tight during peak periods of demand in many parts of the country, the council said.

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