China Permits Two New Coal Plants Per Week | Eastern North Carolina Now

So every two months, China adds more coal power than North Carolina can possibly retire

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the John Locke Foundation. The author of this post is Jon Sanders.

    A key fact - and important graphic - in last week's brief describing North Carolina's China Carbon Time for 2023 has already been rendered obsolete. It's even more bad news for those who think North Carolina can reduce its emissions from carbon dioxide (CO2) enough to affect global climate.

    China is was adding 30 times more coal-fired capacity than North Carolina could possibly retire

    As explained in the brief:

    China, for example, plans to add 270,000 megawatts of new coal-fired production just in the next three years. Coal, a highly dispatchable and low-cost baseload source of electricity generation, is also very emissions-heavy. In July, Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced that China would not be bound by the Paris accords. ...


    For North Carolina, China Carbon Time comes shortly after midnight, at 12:24:42 a.m. [per each full day of increased Chinese CO2 emissions]. No matter how many costs North Carolina's policymakers pile on Tar Heels to cut electricity-based emissions, that's the most they could do. As it is, North Carolina has already reduced them by nearly half with no commensurate decrease in doomsday rhetoric or policymaking.

    Remember North Carolina's Carbon Plan? The biggest feature of the plan is the retirement of over 9,000 MWs of coal-fired generation by 2035. That's a mere one-thirtieth of the amount of coal power that China plans to add just in the next three years, as the first graph above shows.

    An accompanying graph shows this vast disparity:

    The disparity is now vaster.

    China now: We're not adding 270,000 MWs of new coal. We're adding 392,000 MWs.

    On August 29, the Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air put out a joint press release warning about the increased pace of China's permitting of new coal-fired power plants. They announced:


    The latest briefing from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) shows that in 2023, China has continued a coal power plant permitting spree that started in 2022. The first half of 2023 saw 52 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power permitted, maintaining the previous rhythm of permitting two coal power plants per week. One gigawatt is the equivalent of one large coal power plant.

    Coal power plant commissioning also doubled year-on-year, with 17.1 GW added to the grid in the first half of 2023. This is the first time that the results of the accelerated permitting of new projects and restarting of suspended projects in 2020 are seen.

    After the permitting spree of the past year, China currently has 243 GW [243,000 MWs] of new coal power plants under construction, or permitted for construction. When plants currently announced or in the preparation stage but not yet permitted are included, this number rises to 392 GW [392,000 MWs] of capacity at 306 different coal power plants.

    As explained in China Carbon Time,

    So global CO2 emissions are still increasing, despite people in the U.S. now being asked to shoulder enormous costs to cut their electricity-based emissions more. A state can destroy working power plants and impoverish and endanger its own citizens, but it won't affect the world's climate one bit. It can't. ...

    Consider: what good is closing all of North Carolina's coal-fired power plants and doubling electricity rates on people if China is adding 30 times that amount in a fraction of the time?

    Now, of course, it means closing all of North Carolina's coal-fired power plants and possibly doubling electricity rates on our people while China adds over 42 times that amount of coal-fired generation capacity.

    Closing and replacing North Carolina's working coal power plants will take well over a decade to do so responsibly, according to state law that requires the utility to follow the least-cost path and to maintain or increase grid reliability on the way to carbon neutrality. It will still necessarily happen at great expense to North Carolinians.


    Meanwhile, China is on a breakneck pace of permitting two new coal plants per week. Regardless of any supposed climate gains North Carolina would make by closing all its coal power, China had already obliterated them - in a space of two months. Pick any two.

    So every two months, China adds more coal power than North Carolina can possibly retire.

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