China’s Power Sector 13th Five Year Plan disappoints - Greenpeace

Press release - 2016-11-07
Beijing, 7 November 2016 - China’s Power Sector 13th Five Year Plan, released today by the National Energy Administration, is far from ambitious enough in its attempts to tackle China’s coal power overcapacity problem.[1] In addition, its wind power capacity targets do not reflect the reality of the sector’s growth and solar targets fail to expand the sector beyond its record 2015 growth.

“The plan announced today fails to provide the much-needed blueprint for cleaning up China’s power industry,” said Greenpeace senior coal campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta.

“Over the last three years China has seen coal consumption peak and record wind and solar installations. While the new plan consolidates many of these accomplishments, it does little to increase ambition.”

The plan limits coal-fired power generating capacity to 1,100 gigawatts in 2020, up from the current capacity of 920GW. Given that China already has severe overcapacity and demand for coal-fired power generation continues to fall, this is disappointing.

With 200GW of coal-fired power plants already under construction, the plan will still require entirely stopping new projects from going into construction and retiring existing capacity or cancelling some under-construction projects. However, these measures do not show the same level of ambition as policies announced by the country’s energy regulator in September and October this year, which saw the cancellation of dozens of under-construction projects with a combined capacity of 17GW.[2]

The plan’s wind and solar targets are also disappointing. The wind energy target of “more than 210GW” will be exceeded by a significant margin. China already has a total of 140GW wind power in operation and a further 80GW under construction. Setting a low target will create uncertainty for new projects.

The solar power target is somewhat more ambitious, keeping annual installations at the record level achieved in 2015. However, given the urgency of combating air pollution and climate change, we would expect the government to accelerate investments in clean energy, rather than stabilise or slow down.

Greenpeace is calling on the government to limit coal-fired capacity in 2020 at or below current level, by cancelling the vast glut of coal-fired power plants permitted in 2015, and accelerating retirements of existing coal plants. Investments in renewable energy should be further accelerated from 2015 levels to continue to reduce China’s CO2 emissions in line with what is required to combat climate change.

Notes to editors:

[1] http://www.nea.gov.cn/xwfb/20161107zb1/index.htm

[2] http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/series/china-energy/

Media Contacts:

Tom Baxter, International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia, email: phone: +86 18811344861 

Lauri Myllyvirta, Senior Coal Campaigner, Greenpeace, email: phone: +86 157 1002 1563 Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 7182470 (available 24 hours)

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