China's Big Green Push Means More Coal

China wind turbine

At the same China expands its renewable energy production, it also pushes further into dirty energy, like coal, the Wall Street Journal says.

The reasons are simple enough. When the sun doesn’t shine, or the wind doesn’t blow, people still need electricity. There is no source of energy that’s as cheap as coal that provides same kind of capacity for generating electricity.

China’s grid isn’t ready for more renewable energy to come on line, either. According to the Journal, 30% of the country’s wind capacity isn’t online yet. Both of these facts have implications for the U.S. and any plans for it to go green:

WSJ: Any country with a combination of rapidly growing energy demand, an old and inflexible grid, an existing reliance on coal for power, and ambitious renewable energy-expansion plans will likely have a similar dilemma. What marks China out as different is the amount of new coal-fired capacity that needs to be added.

The China Greentech Initiative, a group made up of more than 80 mostly large Western companies and organisations with interests in the environmental sector, said in a report earlier this month, “China’s increased focus on renewable energy exerts yet greater demands on China’s electric power infrastructure. Power generation based on renewable energy sources … necessitates greater use of intermittent generation management and storage.”

“China will need to add a substantial amount of coal-fired power capacity by 2020 in line with its expanding economy, and the idea is to bring some of the capacity earlier than necessary in order to facilitate the wind-power transmission,” said Shi Pengfei, vice president of the Chinese Wind Power Association.

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