Despite climate promises and the construction of hundreds of renewable energy plants, China produced 53 percent of the world’s coal-fired power in 2020, up to nine percentage points from five years earlier, according to a global data report released on Monday.
According to reports from Ember, a London-based energy and environment research organization, China was the only G20 country to see a substantial rise in a coal-fired generation last year, despite adding a record 71.7 gigawatts (GW) of wind power and 48.2 GW of solar.
According to the survey, China’s coal-fired generation increased by 1.7 percent, or 77 terawatt-hours, bringing its share of global coal power to 53 percent, up from 44 percent in 2015.
The world has pledged to reduce its reliance on coal in order to reach a plateau in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and become “carbon neutral” by 2060.
“China is like a big ship, and it takes time to turn in another direction,” Muyi Yang, a senior analyst at Ember and one of the report’s contributors, said.
China has so far been unable to meet the substantial growth in electricity demand with renewable energy. Last year, renewables only reached around half of China’s power consumption rise.
According to a February research report, new coal-fired power systems will exceed 38.4 GW in 2020, more than three times the amount installed by the rest of the world.
From about 70% a decade ago to 56.8% last year, China has gradually reduced coal’s share of overall energy consumption. However, Ember estimated that absolute generation volumes grew by 19 percent from 2016 to 2020.
China pledged to “rationally monitor the size and speed of growth in the construction of coal-fired plants” in its 2021-2025 five-year plan, and Yang predicted that stricter steps will follow.