Research Shows Replacing 50% Coal-Fired Power Plants with Low Carbon Energy Will Save US$1.6 Trillion for China

published: 2021-05-05 9:30 | editor: | category: News

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, reiterated in December 2020 regarding the achievement of the carbon neutrality target for 2060, and proposed schedules and procedures that are even more concrete. The new report of TransitionZero also proposes that a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide by 2030, which equals shutting down 588 units of coal-fired power plants, will not only achieve the target, but also save US$1.6 trillion for China.

During a video conference from the Climate Ambition Summit at the end of last year, Xi announced that the carbon emission from the GDP of local Chinese units will be reduced by more than 65% in 2030 compared to 2005, and non-fossil fuel will occupy roughly 25% of primary energy, while the growing stock of forests will increase by 6 billion m3 compared to 2005, whereas the total installed capacity of wind and solar energy will elevate to more than 1,200GW (1.2 billion kW).

China expects to arrive at the peak of emission in 2030, followed by a gradual decrement subsequently to achieve carbon neutrality in 2060. Nuclear energy serves as a major emphasis in the future energy blueprint for China, who currently has 49 nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 51GW (51.027 million kW) that is ranked third in the world. However, a total of 19 nuclear power units that are currently in the middle of construction upon approval possess an installed capacity of 20GW (20.99 million kW), and are expected to achieve a threefold accumulation to 120GW (120 million kW0 by 2030, which will transform China into the most prominent country in nuclear energy.

How is a reduction in carbon emission achieved? China has approximately 1,058 units of coal-fired power plants right now, and accounts for more than half of the global power generation volume, which points to a sizeable emission of carbon emission. As pointed out by the report of TransitionZero, China must shut down, transform, or suspend 364GW worth of coal-fired power plants, equaling 588 units of coal-fired power plants within 10 years, as well as reform the ETS.

The research team believes that China will have to implement immediate actions in order to achieve the climate target, since coal reduction will derive another benefit, which is a conservation of US$1.6 trillion for the country as calculated by TransitionZero through satellites, machine learning, and financial models, and the research point also pointed out that the cost of renewable energy is much cheaper than that of coal.

The research team also discovered that the Chinese carbon market had an excess demand of 1.56 billion tons between 2019 and 2020, which equaled to a year worth of emission for the EU, and indicated a sizeable gap between the target and the actual status from the climate and economic angles.

China is continuing on the actuation of coal-fired power generation while expanding on the development of low carbon energy such as renewable and nuclear energy. The report of TransitionZero pointed out that the country increased 38.4GW of coal-burning installations in 2020, which was higher than the suspended capacity around the world last year at 37.8GW. 76% of new coal-fired power plants came from China, which is much higher than 64% in 2019.

The report worries that the energy program of China may create numerous stranded assets, which are referred to as the low profit power plants that are established yet without being used or generating insignificant level of revenue. These establishments can be regarded as the white elephants of the energy sector.

Matt Gray, author of the report, also pointed out the correctness of carbon emission information, which must be trustworthy and reliable for a foundation of mutual trust to be established in the climate conference among various countries. Without considering climate change, China will be able to fully replace coal-fired power plants with zero carbon energy that will save money, avoid stranded assets, and elevate international reputation.

The report suggests that China should immediately cancel on new coal-fired power plants indefinitely, and announce a guide on zero emission, as well as prevent false transactions by using satellite images and machine learning.

 (Cover photo source: pixabay)

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