Why is coal-fired power plants still increasing in China?
Non-profit organizations have studied the sustainable energy policy
Zombie Coal-The Energy Transition Magazine
◆ Coal is no longer cheap energy
There is a record that coal was used as a fuel for blacksmiths in ancient Greece in ancient times, but it came to be used as an energy source in earnest because the steam engine was invented in the 18th century. . Coal has been supporting people's lives for about 200 years since it became the driving force of the Industrial Revolution, but in recent years, Germany has announced plans to
The biggest reason coal is no longer used is its environmental impact. When coal is burned, harmful substances such as nitrogen oxides , sulfur oxides, and mercury are generated, causing air pollution. Another problem is the large amount of ash that remains after coal burns.
Coal also emits a great deal of carbon. Considering that coal-fired power generation produces not only carbon dioxide but also methane gas, according to Rosend, coal is considered the worst fossil fuel for climate change.
Still, the reason behind the use of coal was the low cost compared to energy sources such as oil. However, as the futures price of crude oil recorded its first negative price in April 2020, oil prices have been declining in recent years, and coal is relatively expensive. It is becoming energy.
As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that global coal demand in the first quarter of 2020 will fall by 8% compared to the same period last year.
Against the intensifying competition in terms of cost, the coal industry is taking advantage of combined cycle power generation, which uses exhaust heat from thermal power generation to generate more energy, making it dramatically more efficient than before. The rising renewable energies are pushing us to a tougher position.
According to Rosend, the cost of solar power generation has fallen to less than one-seventh in the last decade. “Renewable energy does not require fuel costs and can be operated with only the cost of constructing a power plant and the minimum maintenance cost. Yes, that's a huge disadvantage for thermal power plants that cost fuel, 'Rosellund points out.
◆ Coal-fired power plants are increasing in China
Despite the loss of coal's cost advantage, the number of newly built coal-fired power plants in the world exceeds the number of closed coal-fired power plants, increasing overall. There is a tendency.
Below is a graph of the power generation capacity of coal-fired power plants under construction or planned for construction by 2020, jointly analyzed by the US research organization Global Energy Monitor and the UK think tank Carbon Tracker. From the left, the graph shows China, South Asia, India, Turkey, Japan, EU, America, and other regions, the blue bar graph is under construction, the black bar graph shows the thermal power plant where the construction plan was announced. I will. It can be seen at a glance that coal-fired power plants have not been constructed in the EU and the United States, whereas new coal-fired power plants have been actively established in China and other Asian regions.
According to Rosend, there are three main factors behind the continued increase in coal-fired power plants in China. The first factor is 'energy security'. China is the world's largest net importer of oil, which relies on imports for most of the oil it consumes, but coal can be produced in large quantities domestically. As such, coal is seen as a means of reducing dependence on energy imports. As the world's largest coal producing country, it employs a huge number of people from mining to operating power plants, so coal-fired power generation has the implication of protecting the domestic economy.
The Japan Agency for Natural Resources and Energy also explained the reason for coal-fired power generation, 'For Japan, which lacks a stable supply of energy resources, it is necessary to use coal to a certain extent.' .
Why is Japan continuing to utilize coal-fired power generation? Initiatives to Achieve Energy Mix and CO2 Reduction from FY2030 to 2030 ｜ Special Contents ｜ Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
The second factor lies in the 'policy-making mechanism'. In China, for a long time, the central government had the exclusive power to build new coal-fired power plants, but this power was transferred from the central government to the Ministry in 2014. It was the local governments of each province that jumped on this. Local governments, which have always been sought by the central government for economic growth, have provoked permission to build coal-fired power plants as a way to easily expand employment. As a result, by the time the construction of coal-fired power plants was restricted in 2016, there was a rush of coal-fired power plant construction in various parts of China.
The third factor is 'environmental policy.' With the economic development of China, the problem of air pollution became more serious in urban areas, and at one time, 'canned foods with clean air' were sold like flyers . Therefore, the central government began to close coal-fired power stations near large cities, but increased the number of coal-fired power stations in rural areas to compensate for this, which spurred the construction rush of coal-fired power stations. I heard it took.
'In China, growth goals, energy security, and coal-related jobs are prioritized over the reality of construction projects,' said Carbon Tracker analyst Sriya Sundaresan.
“We are facing two major disasters, climate issues and a coal-dependent economy. There is still time to turn this situation around, but coal-fired Investors and governments investing in the construction of the site need to seriously reconsider the risks they are trying to take. '
in Note, Posted by log1l_ks