China plans the most new coal power projects globally

Of the 400 companies worldwide planning to expand coal operations, 161 are Chinese, environmental groups report.

China emissions
Chinese power producers are building coal-fired plants not only at home, but increasingly abroad as well. According to the Global Coal Exit List, 24 percent of China's new coal power generating capacity will be built in 20 other countries [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

China‘s total planned coal-fired power projects now stand at 226.2 gigawatts (GW), the highest in the world and more than twice the amount of new capacity on the books in India, according to data published by environmental groups on Thursday.

The projects approved by China amount to nearly 40 percent of the world’s total planned coal-fired power plants, according to the Global Coal Exit List database run by German environmental organisation Urgewald and 30 other partner organisations.

The new China projects would be more than Germany’s existing installed power capacity of approximately 200GW by the end of 2018.

The environmental groups said in a press release on Thursday that, worldwide, 400 of the 746 companies in their database were still planning to expand their coal operations.

The companies include miners and power generators, and account for 89 percent of the world’s thermal coal production and nearly 87 percent of the world’s installed coal-fired power capacity.

Of those, 161 are Chinese. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will be the focus of attention at next week’s United Nations summit on climate action in New York, with Beijing promising more ambition when it comes to tackling global warming.

China has been under pressure to curb investments in coal, at home and overseas, but Chinese financial institutions have continued to support coal projects.

Beijing said on Tuesday, in a position paper ahead of the UN meeting, that it would remain on “the clean energy and low-carbon development path” but stopped short of setting new targets.

China has cut the share of coal in its total energy mix from more than 68 percent in 2012 to 59 percent by the end of last year, but overall consumption has continued to increase.

China had 1,020GW of coal-fired power by the end of July, amounting to 55 percent of its total installed capacity. A Chinese industry group has suggested total capacity could eventually settle at 1,300GW.

Source: Reuters