This prioritization opens up opportunities for boosting China’s already considerable coal generation capacity, with Shenhua Energy Co. planning to build more coal power plants before 2025.
The company is a unit of the biggest coal mining company in the country: China Energy Investment Corp. Last year, China’s total coal output rose by 9% to 4.5 billion tons, which represented over half of the world’s total.
“As the country’s latest round of power system optimization progresses, the company is seizing the window of opportunity for thermal power development,” said the company’s general manager Xu Mingjun, as quoted by Bloomberg.
China has been approving new coal generation capacity at a breakneck speed since the start of last year. The total approved to date stands at 152 GW, which Bloomberg notes is more than the total coal generation capacity in Europe currently in operation.
In the first half of this year, China approved more than 50 GW in new coal generation capacity.
This has prompted a lot of criticism from environmentalists but China has stuck to its priorities, noting that it needs coal generation in a supporting role to make up for the drops in output from wind and solar as they depend on the weather.
In fairness, Europe is also returning to coal in the absence of cheap Russian pipeline gas. Despite the massive buildup in wind and solar capacity across much of the continent, European countries have discovered they need dispatchable generation and have found it in coal.
Germany, the flagman for the European energy transition, made headlines earlier this year when it decided to dismantle a wind farm in order to expand a coal mine.