2 February 2024

The future is no longer coal, but it is still very much alive, especially in China. While the production capacities of electricity based on this fossil energy continue to see their pace slow down in the world, the Chinese plans are throwing trouble on these results. “In 2022, Beijing increased its additional production capacity by 26.8 gigawatts (GW), which ultimately compensated for the shutdowns that were made in the rest of the world (23.9 GW)”notes the Californian non-governmental organization Global Energy Monitor in a study published on Thursday 6 April.

Admittedly, at the global level, production capacity has experienced a collapse since 2014. In 2021, it had even bottomed out, at 479 GW, before rising again, in 2022, to reach 537 GW (+ 12%). , and this, precisely because of China. “For the first time, China accounted for 68% of projects in development worldwide, and even 72% of those in preparation”, underlines the study, which notes, since 2022, a growing gap between this country and the rest of the planet. While China’s generation capacity increased by 38%, to 365 GW, elsewhere it fell by 20%, to nearly 172 GW.

The energy context and more expensive liquefied natural gas prices have pivoted China towards a coal comeback,” confirms Neil Makaroff, former member of the Climate Action Network, expert in climate and energy policies. And this one to recall that, in 2022, beyond the economic recovery, heat waves and the use of air conditioning have caused electricity consumption to explode, while hydroelectricity was at its lowest.

In Inner Mongolia

In this context, Beijing accelerated new projects, issuing, as it had not done since 2015, numerous power plant construction permits, and approved 106 GW of capacity, the equivalent of two large power plants. charcoal per week. “In China, some provinces alone have seen their additional capacity exceed that of entire countries”, reveals the study. Thus, Inner Mongolia recorded more new capacities than India and Japan combined, which nevertheless rank second and third in the country rankings after China.

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This growth, as important as it is, must however be put into perspective, continues Neil Makaroff. Last year, China also installed 145 GW of renewables, matching the rest of the world. Si Beijing wants to peak its CO emissions2 by 2030, however, it will also have to give up coal. » Outside of China, the global number of coal-fired power plants continued to decline, even if this decline slowed compared to 2021. In this respect, the European Union has reduced its sails, with a decline of 2.2 GW of its capacity in 2022, after reaching a record 14.6 GW in 2021.

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