While the rest of the world has cut coal-based electricity over the past 18 months, China has added enough to power 31 million homes. That’s according to a study that says China is now in the process of building or reviving coal equivalent to the EU’s entire generating capacity.
Researchers say the surge is a major threat to the Paris climate targets.
China’s reliance on coal as a key step in developing the economy led to the fabled “one coal plant a week” building programme between 2006 and 2015. But the push had many negative consequences, choking the air with pollution in many Chinese cities and leading to huge overcapacity. Many of these plants were only able to run 50% of the time.
The researchers say that through 2018 and up to June 2019, countries outside of China cut their coal power capacity by 8.1 gigawatts (GW). In the same period, China added 43GW, enough to power around 31 million homes. Compared to the rest of the world, China is building about 50% more coal plants than are under construction in all other countries combined.