The capacity of China’s coal-fired power industry in 2020 fell below 50%

For the first time on record in 2020, the share of coal-fired thermal power installed in China fell to less than half of the country’s total capacity, according to a new report from the China Electricity Council (CEC) published in February.

Coal was the main raw material for the generation of about 1.08 billion kWh of electricity in China last year, accounting for 49.1% of the country’s total capacity of 2.2 billion kWh, the report said.

The results of the last year are comparable to the results of 2019, when the installed generating capacity in the country amounted to 2.01 billion kW, of which 51.7%, or 1.04 billion kW, was obtained from coal, according to the historical data of the CEC. According to the data, over the past five years, the percentage of coal combustion has decreased by about 10 percentage points from 59% at the end of 2015. However, between 2019 and 2020, the total capacity of coal-fired power units increased by almost 4%, Mysteel Global calculated.

Last year, China’s marked decline in its dependence on coal-fired thermal power was mainly driven by the commissioning of new power units fueled by non-fossil energy sources, especially wind and solar energy. According to the CEC, in 2020 the capacity of newly commissioned wind generators reached a record level of 716.7 million kW, which is 178.4% more than last year. “Thermal” energy in China is energy produced from coal, gas, oil and biomass.

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