Major coal-fired power project launches first unit
A major coal-fired power project in Inner Mongolia launched the first of its four 1,000-megawatt (MW) generating units on 27 December after it had passed a trial run of 168 hours. The project’s operator – a subsidiary of the state-run GD Power Development – announced
the news through social media on the same day. The firm said that the project – situated in an energy and chemical base called Shanghaimiao – is the largest coal-fired power project under construction in China. A seven-kilometre (4.3-mile) railway linking the base with the town’s train station has been built to help with coal transport, according to a separate release
The project is situated in Ordos, a city known for its rich coal resources. Ordos is one of China’s nine
“large-scale coal-fired power bases’” responsible for generating and transmitting power to more economically developed areas in eastern China. According to the project’s operator, this particular plant is a “key supporting project” of a wider national project that aims to transmit ultra-high-voltage electricity for 1,238 kilometres (770 miles) from Shanghaimiao to Linyi, a city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.
The news came less than two months after China – alongside India – was accused of
” the final COP26 deal by pushing for the wording of “phase down” instead of “phase out” for the use of coal. (Read Carbon Brief’s analysis
of the key outcomes of the UN climate talks in Glasgow.)
that China was “under fire for approving new coal power stations as other countries try to curb greenhouse gases”. The outlet noted that, according to its operator, the plant’s technology “was the world’s most efficient, with the lowest rates of coal and water consumption”. It also said that Beijing’s current pledge would only see it starting to reduce coal consumption after 2025, “giving developers considerable leeway to raise capacity further in the coming four years”.
HOW: Prof Yuan Jiahai
from the North China Electric Power University
in Beijing told Carbon Brief that although the 1,000-megawatt unit had just been commissioned, it was part of a “backlog” coal-fired power project that had been approved in 2011
. According to a previous government notice
, construction of the project – which boasted an investment of around 22bn yuan (£2.6bn) and a planned transmission capacity of 10,000MW – began in March 2016. Prof Yuan said that, “in general, as a base for coal and coal-fired power, Inner Mongolia will continue to shoulder the tasks of sending out power [to other places] on a large scale”. He added that the regional government had emphasised the importance of developing clean energy and the clean use of coal, and such policies also apply to those projects in the pipeline.
China’s president Xi pledged
last September that the country “will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad”. But international leaders and politicians – such as Boris Johnson
– have urged China to phase out the domestic use of coal, too. As China faced international pressure, a series of power shortages that struck a large part of China late last year led the country to ramp up its coal production capacity to ensure “energy security”. Last month, the central government stressed
in its economic planning meeting for 2022 that “traditional energy” should “exit gradually” on the basis of “safe and reliable new energy”. Prof Yuan expected the Shanghaimiao plant to “play its strength in the [country’s] development of comprehensive clean energy bases and cross-regional power transmission”. He noted that, even though coal power “still has certain room for growth” in China, the general direction of the 14th five-year plan (14FYP) is to “control the total production capacity [of coal power] on the basis that new coal power plants would be strictly controlled”. (Read Carbon Brief’s in-depth Q&A
of the 14FYP.)
Average temperature of China in 2021 ‘highest’ on record
The average temperature of China in 2021 has set “a historic high”, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). The authority – which takes care of administrative affairs and scientific research for meteorology – said last week that the country’s average temperature over the past 12 months was 10.7C, the highest since the record began in 1961 and 1C higher than “usual”. (The CMA uses a 30-year average from 1981-2010 as “the value of recent years” or the “usual” value for meteorological calculations, according to its 2020 National Eco-Meteorological Bulletin
.) It noted that 12 provincial-level jurisdictions – including the densely populated regions of Jiangsu and Zhejiang on the east coast – had seen record-breaking average temperatures. The CMA released the above statistics at a monthly press conference
on 29 December. The South China Morning Post
covered the story.
Song Shanyun, the CMA’s spokesman, said that the number of “hot” days on average across the country was the second highest since 1961, according to the transcript. He added that the highest temperature of 28 cities and towns exceeded “historic extremes” in August. He stated that southern China had registered 5.7 “hot days” in autumn between 1 September and 6 November, another record high. Song also summarised “five weather traits” of China in 2021: a great number of “hot” days, widespread and back-to-back regional droughts, a less-than-average number of typhoons, an early onset of sandstorms and a colder winter on both ends of the year due to “double-dip La Niña
The northern part of China also experienced its second wettest year on record in 2021 – after 1964 – Song said. He explained that 697.9mm of rain had fallen on northern China last year, 40.6% more than “usual” for that part of the country. Severe downpours
battered the central province of Henan in July, with its capital Zhengzhou
registering 201.9mm of rainfall in the space of an hour, setting a “historic extreme”, he noted. (The heavy rain triggered devastating flooding, leaving 302 people dead and 50 people missing in Henan, state news agency Xinhua reported
previously.) Across China, the average annual rainfall stood at 671.3mm, 6.8% more than “usual”, per official figures.
Spokesman Song said that extreme weather events had been “widespread, frequent, intense and concurrent” in China last year, with both the average temperature and amount of rainfall in the north being “extreme”. The CMA also published a list of China’s top 10 weather events in 2021. The list mentioned – among others – the record-breaking rain
in Henan, “meteorological droughts” in southern China, the “lingering” typhoon In-Fa
, “frequent and intense” cold waves since autumn and the “worst-in-a-decade sandstorm
” that struck Beijing in March. (Check the CMA’s list of top 10 weather events for China
in 2021 and its list for abroad
SIGNIFICANCE: At the press conference, the CMA did not directly link any of the above events to climate change. However, Jia Xiaolong, deputy director of National Climate Centre – a subsidiary of the CMA – implied the role of climate change. Jia described China’s “weather and climate situation” in 2021 as “unusual in a prominent manner”. He said: “The multiple and frequent occurrences of extreme weather events have become normal against a backdrop of global warming, posing great challenges to meteorological disaster prevention and mitigation.”