China’s Insatiable Appetite For Fossil Fuels

The population of the People’s Republic of China (China) is approximately 1,439.32 million people[1]. In 2018, power companies used Coal (59.3%), Petroleum (17.3%), Renewable Energy (15.6%), Natural Gas (6.1%) and Nuclear Power (1.7%) to generate electricity in the country[2]. The primary sources of renewable energy in China are hydropower, biomass, and wind.

In 2016, China signed the Paris Climate Agreement and committed to reduce 2005 carbon intensity levels 60% to 65% by 2030. China further pledged to generate 20% of the country’s electricity from non-fossil fuels (nuclear power and renewable energy).

China’s economic growth has been primarily fueled by coal-fired power plants. In 2018, China consumed more coal than the rest of the world combined. Coal is the primary reason that China has the world’s largest carbon footprint and is responsible for 28.5% of global emissions in 2018[3].

China is actively developing renewable energy sources in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government’s energy plan includes the development of new hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear power facilities. The Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster in 2011 has not caused China to lose confidence in nuclear power.

Recent major, green power projects in China include:

  • 20,000 MW Onshore Wind Farm Project – Over twenty Chinese companies are nearing completion on the final phase of the Gansu Wind Farm Project. The massive wind project is located in western Gansu province, approximately 750 miles west of China’s capital, Beijing. The Gansu Wind Farm Project is scheduled to be completed by year-end 2020.
  • 10,200 MW Hydropower Station – In July 2020, Chinese state power company, China Three Gorges Corporation connected the first unit of the Wudongde hydropower station. The hydropower project is located in southwest China and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
  • 6,000 MW Nuclear Power Plant In July 2019, China General Nuclear Power completed the sixth and final reactor in the Yangjiang nuclear power plant. The nuclear facility is located approximately 120 miles southwest of the city of Guangzhou, formerly called Canton.

China’s dramatic economic growth has been fueled by coal which generates up to twice the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) as natural gas. The Chinese government’s plan is to build massive green energy projects to meet future energy requirements and to replace coal-fired power plants.

The reality is only a small percentage of the name plate capacity of these massive power plants have been effectively tied into China’s power grid. Unless China changes it’s way, the People’s Republic of China will continue to lead the world in pollution of the air, land and waterways.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum



[1] China Population (2020) – Worldometer,

[2] World Energy Data, December 7, 2019

[3] China Power, How Is China Managing It’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions? July 19, 2018

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