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China targets 1.8% cut in average coal use at power plants by 2025
China flagged it is targetting a 1.8 per cent reduction in average coal use for electricity generation at power plants over the next five years, in a bid to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The target, announced by China’s economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), comes as the world’s top climate negotiators have gathered in Scotland for the COP26 climate talks. Average coal use for electricity generation in China fell by about 17.4 per cent in the 15 years till 2020.

NDRC’s statement did not refer to the UNĀ event, which Chinese President Xi Jinping is not attending and offered no additional pledges in a written response.

By 2025, coal-fired power plants in China must adjust their consumption rate to an average of 300 grams of standard coal per kilowatt-hour (kWh), NDRC said on Wednesday. That compares to 305.5 grams per kWh in 2020.

“Further promoting the energy saving and consumption reduction at coal-fired power units is an effective means to improve energy efficiency and is of great significance for achieving carbon emission peak in the power industry,” the NDRC said.

China, the world’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, has vowed to bring its carbon emissions to a peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Last week, China published a roadmap on the peak carbon target, aiming to reduce waste, promote renewables and unconventional fuel as well as reform its electricity network.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power generation and heating sectors account for more than 40 per cent of total CO2 emissions in China.

Average coal use for power generation in China is down now compared with 370 grams per kWh in 2005.

“The reduction of coal use helped to cut 6.67 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions from the power sector in 2006-2020, or 36 per cent of total emission reductions in the industry,” NDRC said.

China’s powerful NDRC is in charge of crafting policies on economic development for the country, with plans and orders issued by the agency expected to be carried out by local and regional authorities.

The NDRC mandated that new power plant projects adopt ultra-super critical units that consume coal at an average rate below 270 grams per kWh. It also said that new water-cooling units in power plants that use more than 285 grams per kWh and air-cooling units that consumer more than 300 grams per kWh will not be allowed.

Further, power plants with average coal use above 300 grams per kWh that cannot be upgraded for energy efficiency improvement will be gradually shut down, NDRC said.

China is also aiming to upgrade 200 GW of coal-fired power plant capacity in 2021-2025 to give its power system, where an increasing portion of renewable energy is being used, the flexibility to switch sources.

NDRC also said it will guide financial institutions to offer more credit support to energy savings projects at coal-fired power plants, and will improve power market mechanisms to benefit coal-fired power units that have completed the upgrade.