BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Recently China’s government urged 11 provinces to stop construction on more than 100 coal-fired power projects. The move comes as China is trying to curb the use of fossil fuels. Right now coal accounts for the majority of the nation’s power supply, and stopping the projects is a major step towards a future of renewable resources.
According to Caixin, the National Energy Administration suspended the projects, some of which were already under construction. Together the scrapped projects had a combined capacity of more than 100 gigawatts and were worth $62 billion.
Critics of the move have suggested that halting construction now will only result in major economic losses for the country. However, as Greenpeace stated, “The cancellations will be painful, and entail major commercial losses and disputes. But spending money to complete these unneeded coal plants would have been even more wasteful — it would likely have cost well over $20 billion.”
And the coal plants are indeed not needed. According to Scientific American, the rapid expansion of China’s coal-fired power capacity, together with a decrease in the demand for electricity, has led to the lowest utilization rates since 1978. Because of this China will also stop approving any new projects until 2018.
Furthermore, the country has committed to installing 130 gigawatts of additional solar and wind power by 2020, which is the equivalent of France’s total renewable power generation capacity.
The move is a positive step forward for China, which, in 2012 saw more than 1 million of its citizens die because of dirty air. In 2016, the country still sat at the top of the World Health Organization’s list of deadliest countries for outdoor air pollution.
The decision won’t have a huge impact on China’s pollution problem, but any move towards cleaner energy is a good start.