China Was Responsible for 96% of Coal Plants Constructed in 2023


China was single-handedly responsible for 96% of global coal power capacity construction last year, cementing its position as the biggest coal builder in the world.

Per data, released by Global Energy Monitor and reported by Bloomberg, China last year also accounted for 68% of new coal generation capacity that came online last year and 81% of newly planned coal generation projects.

China’s attitude to coal has been hard to swallow for Europe and other transition advocates but Beijing has made a point of explaining that on its list of priorities, energy security comes before energy transition. Besides, officials have said that most of the new coal capacity will operate as backup for wind and solar, which cannot generate electricity round the clock, unlike coal power plants.

Meanwhile, coal production in China hit a record last year, at 4.66 billion metric tons, which was 2.9% higher than output in 2022, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed last month.

Higher demand after the COVID restrictions were lifted and higher domestic coal prices also led to record-high coal imports into China, which soared by 61.8% year-on-year to 474.42 million metric tons in 2023, data from the General Administration of Customs showed in January.

In the latter part of 2023, China ramped up coal and natural gas production, imports, and consumption as its electricity demand jumped in the second half and looks to hit a record-high winter peak demand.

China’s coal demand is expected to drop this year and plateau through 2026, and global demand is set to decline to 2026, “but China will have the last word,” the International Energy Agency said in a recent report on coal trends. The report noted that China’s coal future will be affected by the rate of its wind and solar buildout over the next few years, as well as structural economic factors.

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