China's Closing 31 Gigawatts of Coal Power Plants!

china coal power plants

photo: Gustavo Madico

Catches your eye doesn’t it? It certainly did mine when I first saw it. But all is not clean and renewable in China (yet): Those 31 GW of coal power plants that are going to be closed are not being replaced with renewable energy, or even natural gas-fired plants. They’re being replaced with newer coal-fired power plants. Smaller power plants are being consolidated into larger, more efficient ones:The plan calls builds on the 13 GW set to close in 2009 and adds 10GW in 2010, and a further 8GW in 2011. These older power plants will be replaced with newer plants having a combined capacity of 50 GW.

How Long Can Efficiency Improvements Keep Emissions Down?
Though I am inclined to call this a step forward and a step back, emissions are likely to go down slightly by replacing the older plants with newer ones. Cleantech points out that in 2005 China’s coal plants used on average 370 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour. But by using newer technology this was reduced to 349 grams per kilowatt-hour in 2008, with some plants using 283 grams of coal.

That sounds like a good thing, but at the rate at which additional capacity is being brought online how long can efficiency improvements really keep emissions from rising?

via: Cleantech
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