Can China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, become carbon neutral by 2060? China has not yet revealed details of how it will do this. But a research group at Tsinghua University presented a $15 trillion, 30-year road map on 27 September that calls for ending the use of coal for electricity generation around 2050, dramatically increasing nuclear and renewable power generation, and relying on electricity for 80% of China’s energy consumption by 2060. Recent advances in renewable energy have made replacing coal easier than cutting oil use in transportation and emissions from farm fields and livestock. “The power sector is the part of the energy system where zero emission technologies are the most mature and economically competitive,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, an air pollution analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki. Zero-carbon electricity could make charging electric vehicles cleaner and supplant coal for heating. But it will require a U-turn. A recent study by Myllyvirta and colleagues found that China’s coal-fired generating capacity grew by about 40 gigawatts (GW) in 2019, to about 1050 GW. Another 100 GW is under construction and coal interests are lobbying for even more plants. “This is all despite significant overcapacity in the sector,” with plants running at less than 50% of capacity and many coal-power companies losing money, the study said. Canadell says the building boom is the result of misplaced incentives to build coal plants and create construction jobs. He predicts many of the new plants will barely be used or become stranded assets that have to be written off.
Science 29th Sept 2020 read more »
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent announcement that his country aims to reach peak carbon emissions before 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2060 has raised a lot of questions: Was it a serious commitment, or a geopolitical maneuver meant to outshine President Trump? Does it exempt China’s financing of dirty energy projects in other countries? Most importantly: How will the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which is still building new coal plants, achieve such an ambitious goal?
Grist 2nd Oct 2020 read more »