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.
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.
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.
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.”