China will stop the construction of coal-fired power plants in many regions as part of its efforts to tackle a capacity glut in the sector. Image: Simon Lim / Greenpeace
China will delay or reschedule the construction of coal-fired power plants in 15 provinces as part of its efforts to tackle a capacity glut in the sector, the country's energy regulator said.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the National Energy Administration (NEA) have ordered a halt to approval of coal-fired plants projects in 13 provinces where capacity is already in surplus, including major coal producers such as Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, and Shaanxi. A further 15 provinces will be required to delay or reschedule construction of already-approved plants.
Harsh punishments have been threatened for construction that goes ahead in breach of the new regulations. Operating licenses will be denied, connection to the power grid blocked, and financial institutions will halt lending to transgressors.
Data source: Energy Observer / China Southern Power Grid Company. Image: chinadialogue
The curbs come as Chinese government departments are asked to make rapid policy adjustments in response to slowing electricity demand, as the country shifts toward a less wasteful and less energy-intensive economy and aims to reduce the amount of coal power generation.
The rapid expansion of China's coal-fired power capacity, together with a slowdown in demand growth, has saddled the sector with its lowest utilisation rates since 1978, the NEA said earlier this year.
Environmental group Greenpeace said the rules, if fully implemented, could involve up to 250 power projects with a total of 170 GW in capacity, according to initial estimates.