IEA Clean Coal Centre responds to the BBC report, “China coal power building boom sparks climate warning

1st Oct 2018

A response to the BBC report, “China coal power building boom sparks climate warning” by Matt McGrath.

The claim by CoalSwarm that 259 GW of coal plants are under construction in China could be a gross overestimation by 350%.  Other authoritative sources such as the Platt’s World Electric Power Plant Database suggest that 74 GW of plants being built in China. In fact, the 259 GW claimed by Coalswarm is 35% higher than the 192 GW of capacity being built around the whole world across more than 30 countries.

As mentioned near the end of the article, power stations in China tend to run at part load. Thus the actual emissions will be lower than if the plants are assumed to be running at capacity. Another point to note is that 80% of all new capacity is the latest ultrasupercritical (USC) power designs which produce more than 20% less CO2/MW, use less fuel and emit less pollution than typical old subscritical stations operating at lower efficiencies elsewhere around the world. The increase in USC plant, particularly in Asia, provides an opportunity to equip the plants with carbon capture and utilisation or storage (CCUS) in coming years. CCUS is a tested technology already proven in North America on two coal plants, and has been in use in the gas processing industry for decades.

The BBC report is available here.