China beats 2017 coal-fired power capacity reduction target: Xinhua

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks past coal piles at a coal coking plant in Yuncheng, Shanxi province, China January 31, 2018. Picture taken January 31, 2018. REUTERS/William Hong/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China eliminated or suspended 65 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity in 2017, exceeding the national target of 50 GW, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, citing the State Council.

China, the world’s biggest coal user, has vowed to improve its notorious air pollution and upgrade its fossil-fuel dominant energy structure by cutting coal consumption and boosting clean energy use.

The country aims to eliminate or halt a total of 109 GW of coal-fired power capacity by the end of this decade while at the same time keeping its total installed coal-fired power capacity below 1,100 GW.

However, coal remains the country’s major fuel source because of inadequate infrastructure such as pipelines, storage and electricity transmission lines that would raise the utilization of clean energy.

Last year, China’s coal consumption went up for the first time since 2013, but coal usage as a portion of total energy consumption dropped by 1.6 percentage points to 60.4 percent amid Beijing’s push to convert coal heating to gas or electricity.

Xinhua also reported that emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, major sources of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5, fell 8 percent and 4.9 percent respectively in 2017 compared to a year ago. Those declines beat the target of a 3 percent reduction for each pollutant.

China plans to continue carry out the conversion of coal to clean energy and impose even tougher air quality targets in the coming three years.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Christian Schmollinger