While one US state works to support coal power by banning renewable energy, the Chinese government has ordered the closure of over 100 coal power plants in an effort to improve air quality and reduce fossil fuel use. Reuters reports that the plants’ combined capacity is over 100 gigawatts of power, and they’re worth a total of 430 billion yuan, or $62 billion U.S.
As Reuters notes, the move to suspend these projects represents a major advancement in the government’s plan to kick the country’s coal habit and generate more power from renewables. Currently, the majority of China’s energy comes from coal-fired plants.
It also echoes another move last year, when the Chinese government announced it would either eliminate or delay at least 150 gigawatts of coal-fired power projects between 2016 and 2020, while putting a 1,100 gigawatt cap on total coal power generation. Add to this the fact that China is installing an extra 130 gigawatts of solar and wind power by 2020, and it’s clear that China is serious about finding alternatives to coal. Some of the coal plants will eventually go ahead, but they will replace existing facilities that are coming to the end of their lives – and no new plants will be built until 2025.
It’s no doubt that the shift away from coal power will help the country deal with massive air quality issues that regularly shut down Beijing and other large cities. Unsurprisingly, Greenpeace is in favor of the move. “Stopping under-construction projects seems wasteful and costly, but spending money and resources to finish these completely unneeded plants would be even more wasteful,” the NGO said in a statement to Reuters.