12:19 GMT +312 December 2018
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    Huadian Nanxiong coal-fired power plant in Guangdong province, China

    US-Based Research Group Says China Boosts Coal Power Despite Gov't Restrictions

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    In January 2017, China announced that it was halting over 100 coal-fired power plant projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, across a dozen of its provinces.

    Newly-released satellite images allegedly show the ongoing construction of coal plants despite the Chinese government’s order to suspend or cancel the projects, according to a new report by the San Francisco-based research platform CoalSwarm.

    READ MORE: China's Hebei Region Halts Coal-to-Gas Projects to Wait for Russian Gas Supply

    In its “tsunami warning” report, the group, which receives financial support from a number of foundations, mainly based in the United States, in addition to private donations, hypothesized that Beijing was building more plants than the government claimed.

    Using Planet Labs satellite data, CoalSwarm analyzed each plant which had been ordered to slow or postpone its construction and cited several examples of locations where the development was proceeding despite restrictions, such as the Huadian Nanxiong, Huaneng Daba-4, Zhoukou Longda, Tianming and Tianyuan Manganese power stations.

    China’s Huadian Nanxiong coal power station. Although the station was subject to suspension orders, satellite imagery shows construction carrying on there from 2017 to 2018
    © Photo : Planet Labs Inc
    China’s Huadian Nanxiong coal power station. Although the station was subject to suspension orders, satellite imagery shows construction carrying on there from 2017 to 2018
    Huadian Nanxiong coal-fired power plant in Guangdong province, China
    © Photo : Planet Labs Inc
    Huadian Nanxiong coal-fired power plant in Guangdong province, China

    While Beijing’s current five-year plan (2016-2020) stipulates that the coal capacity shouldn’t exceed 1,100 gigawatts by 2020, the reports suggests that 259 gigawatts of new capacity are currently under development, coming on top of the existing capacity of 993 gigawatts.

    “This new evidence that China’s central government hasn’t been able to stop the runaway coal-fired power plant building is alarming – the planet can’t tolerate another US-sized block of plants being built,” said Ted Nace, the executive director of CoalSwarm.

    Four year ago, authority for issuing permits for coal power stations passed from the national government to local authorities, which resulted in a surge in new coal projects, approved at the provincial level, between 2014 and 2016.

    In a bid to rein in this boom in January 2017, China’s central government sent letters to provincial authorities that proposed to postpone the 95 GW of coal capacity for development after 2020 and halted another 3 GW of pre-construction capacity.

    CoalSwarm, a San-Francisco based group, claims to be a global network of researchers “developing collaborative informational resources on fossil fuels and alternatives.”

    Tags:
    power stations, research center, coal, satellite imagery, China, United States
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