As Biden Wages War on American Coal, China Makes a Massive Move with the Power Source


China approved 168 coal-fired power plants in 2022, the most rapid expansion of the country’s coal-fired power capacity since 2015, according to a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM) Monday.

Chinese companies began constructing 50 gigawatts (GW) worth of coal-fired power capacity in 2022, more than triple the rest of the world put together and spiking 50 percent from 2021, according to the report.

Conversely, President Joe Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is expected to lead to the retirement of 30 GW to 60 GW of U.S. coal-fired power plants by 2030, by making it more difficult for coal to compete with renewables, E&E News reported, citing an analysis by analytics firm Rhodium Group.

“China continues to be the glaring exception to the ongoing global decline in coal plant development,” said GEM Research Analyst Flora Champenois in the report’s accompanying press release.

“The speed at which projects progressed through permitting to construction in 2022 was extraordinary, with many projects sprouting up, gaining permits, obtaining financing and breaking ground apparently in a matter of months. This kind of a process leaves little room for proper planning or consideration of alternatives.”

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Tax credits in the IRA would make it less expensive to operate a wind or solar farm in the same location of all but one of the 210 coal-fired power plants in the U.S., according to a January report by climate policy think tank Energy Innovation.

The tax credits are part of $369 billion of subsidies for wind, solar and battery production in the IRA that make it less economical to operate coal-fired plants compared to renewable alternatives, E&E reported.

In addition, the Biden Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to introduce a slew of six new regulations, which range from tougher mercury and air toxicity rules to stricter groundwater waste limits, that are expected to accelerate the pace of coal plant retirements, E&E reported.

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One rule, which will limit pollution crossing state lines, could force 23 GW of coal-fired power offline by 2025 alone, Rich Nolan, president of the National Mining Association, told E&E News.

“I mean, it all comes back to economics, honestly,” Ben King, associate director of the Rhodium Group, told E&E News.

“You know, at some point, you stop deciding to invest in a plant that you have to keep putting more and more money into just to keep it running, and it’s increasingly uneconomic in the market.”

China is responsible for roughly half of all coal consumption and production worldwide, and the expansion of coal capacity runs counter to President Xi Jinping’s stated goals of halving carbon emissions by 2030 and hitting net zero by 2060, Bloomberg reported.

While some Chinese provinces have described the new permits as “supporting” the country’s power grid, they plan to run at “baseload utilization,” indicating that they will be the primary source of power in these regions, over clean energy, according to the CREA report.

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In November, Biden claimed at a midterm campaign event that coal plants were economically unreliable, and that the U.S. would be “shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar,” The New York Times reported.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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