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Study Claims, China Shifts Away From Coal-Fired Power Plants Due To Environmental Concerns

The State Development and Investment Corporation, a central government-run investment group with significant holdings in the power sector, announced earlier this year that it would no longer fund coal projects.

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Cars pass the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Power Generator Company coal power plant in Shanghai, March 22, 2016. VOA

China restarted construction on more than 50 gigawatts (GW) of suspended coal-fired power plants last year, bucking a global shift away from fossil fuels, a new study showed Thursday.

China has repeatedly pledged to reduce its reliance on coal, a major source of smog and climate-warming greenhouse gases, and it has cut coal’s share of its total energy mix to 59 percent, down from 68.5 percent in 2012.

But satellite images show China “quietly resumed” construction in 2018 on dozens of previously shelved plants, making it a “glaring exception to the global decline,” said a joint report by environmental groups Global Energy Monitor, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

The report warned that China could build an additional 290 GW of capacity, more than the whole of the United States’ coal capacity, and still remain within the 1,300-GW cap for national coal-fired power generation proposed by the China Electricity Council, an influential industry group.

A general view of a Chinese-backed power plant under construction, May 23, 2018, in Islamkot in the desert in the Tharparkar district of Pakistan's southern Sindh province.
A general view of a Chinese-backed power plant under construction, May 23, 2018, in Islamkot in the desert in the Tharparkar district of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.. VOA

China’s National Development and Reform Commission and its National Energy Administration did not immediately respond to faxed requests to comment on the conclusions of the report.

Lauri Myllyvirta, analyst with Greenpeace’s Global Air Pollution Unit, said Chinese firms are now “pushing for hundreds of additional coal-fired power plants.”

“Another coal power construction spree would be near impossible to reconcile with emission reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming,” he said.

Worldwide, the number of newly completed coal projects fell 20 percent in 2018 and plant retirements continued at a record pace, the study said.

China and coal

But China’s relationship with the dirtiest of fossil fuels remains ambivalent.

The domestic coal power capacity under construction rose 12 percent in 2018, though it was still a third lower than what was being built in 2015. Beijing has also cut back dramatically on new project permits.

While China has vowed to cap consumption nationally and even make cuts in regions like Beijing, Hebei and Henan, overall coal-fired generation has increased, particularly from new “coal bases” in the nation’s northwest.

And though it has promoted alternative fuels at home and built hundreds of solar and wind farms, China is still financing more than a quarter of the new coal-fired plants abroad.

FILE - Chinese employees working, Dec. 11, 2017, on a floating solar power plant in Huainan, a former coal-mining region, in China's eastern Anhui province.
Chinese employees working, Dec. 11, 2017, on a floating solar power plant in Huainan, a former coal-mining region, in China’s eastern Anhui province.. VOA

Soft landing for coal

China is also keen to prop up coal prices and ensure a “soft landing” for a commodity responsible for millions of domestic jobs in struggling industrial districts.

The availability of increasingly competitive and reliable renewable energy, however, has led to concerns that coal investments will soon become unprofitable “stranded assets.”

Also Read: US Approves Secret Nuclear Power Technology for Saudi Arabia

The State Development and Investment Corporation, a central government-run investment group with significant holdings in the power sector, announced earlier this year that it would no longer fund coal projects.

Sources told Reuters last week the central bank is also about to release new guidelines that will prevent “clean coal” projects, including low-emission coal-fired power plants, from issuing “green bonds.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s how China Invaded India with Its Technology

Chinese invasion decimates Indian mobile players, automakers next?

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China has slowly but strategically spread its roots in the Indian IT/technology and allied sectors in India. Pixabay

BY NISHANT ARORA

The Great Wall has slowly but strategically spread its roots in the Indian IT/technology and allied sectors in India, and there is no stopping the dragon which has only grown fierce — threatening industries after industries across the spectrum as India celebrates its 71th Republic Day.

From smartphones to automobile/electric vehicles, from digital payments and consumer electronics to social media, Chinese companies have created massive ripples in the country in the last couple of years, while American giants like Amazon and Facebook/WhatsApp face the political heat.

China, which is a fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy with a current GDP of $14.14 trillion is on the path to become a $20 trillion economy by 2024 and India is its “sweet spot” — with millions of consumers buying Chinese goods which has decimated domestic players in certain sectors.

Technology
Xiaomi, a Chinese company has also established itself well in the country. Pixabay

Take the case of smartphone industry. According to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, Chinese smartphone brands captured 72 per cent of the market in 2019 compared to 60 per cent a year ago.

Behemoth like the BBK Group (the parent company of OPPO, Vivo, Realme and OnePlus brands) captured 37 per cent market share while Xiaomi (along with Redmi and POCO brands) came second at 28 per cent.

Led by Xiaomi and BBK Group, the Chinese brands have invested heavily in manufacturing devices and accessories in India.

Xiaomi currently has seven smartphone manufacturing plants in India in partnership with Taiwanese multinational electronics company Foxconn and Singapore-based technological manufacturer Flex Ltd.

More than 99 per cent of smartphones that are sold in India are manufactured locally. Across these seven plants, Xiaomi has employed more than 25,000 people.

Xiaomi also locally sources and assembles PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly) in India. It has invested in setting up smart TV manufacturing plant in partnership with Dixon Technologies in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The company last year infused Rs 3,500 crore into its Indian business unit.

Vivo has committed Rs 7,500 crore as part of its India expansion plan while Chinese company TCL is investing Rs 2,200 crore in Tirupati for plants that will produce mobile handsets and TV screens.

Amid the onslaught, where do you see domestic players like Micromax, Intex, Lava and Karbonn (known as ‘MILK’ brand)?

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, while we cannot rule out any player making a comeback, especially in such a dynamic market like India, it looks nearly impossible for Indian mobile phones brands to win back any relevant portion of the market.

“China-based brands have been in India for almost 5 years plus now. In this time, apart from snatching the market share almost entirely from the other brands, they have gained immense knowledge about the workings of the India market in terms of consumer thinking, preferences, channel dynamics and marketing interventions,” Singh told IANS.

The Chinese brands are continuously committing resources and investments in all these key areas.

Technology
As China keeps introducing its technology in India, automobile makers will be affected. Pixabay

“Moreover, with more than 3/4th of the market being with 5 players, it is becoming increasingly challenging for any new or old brands like Indian brands to attempt any sustained comeback,” Singh elaborated.

So what are the options for the Indian smartphone players?

“Indian brands can surely look at the feature phone segment, where almost all major China-based brands have chosen to stay away from (expect Shenzhen-based Transsion Group which is the leader). Also, their brand salience remains strong with that consumer segment and Tier II and III markets,” said the IDC executive.

Cut to the Auto Expo 2020 and you will have a better understanding of how Chinese companies muscle their ways.

Top Chinese firms such as SAIC (owner of MG Motors), BYD (maker of electric buses and batteries), Great Wall (which is the biggest SUV maker in China) and FAW Haima, among others, have reserved nearly 20 per cent space in the annual jamboree of carmakers and industry leaders, at a time when the Indian automobile industry is going through a severe slowdown.

Bucking the slowdown trend, SAIC has recorded healthy sales ever since it launched the Hector SUV. At present, the carmaker’s first offering SUV Hector has an order book of 20,000 bookings. It has till date sold nearly 16,000 units of Hector since its launch in July 2019.

The Chinese automobile major has now launched its first electric offering called ZS EV, at a starting price of Rs 20.88 lakh. The company said that it has secured an overwhelming response for the new-age electric SUV, with over 2,800 bookings in 27 days.

To let its EVs run smoothly in India, MG Motor India is building a five-way EV charging ecosystem in association with major domain players.

China’s leading EV company, Sunra, has expressed interest in setting up a factory in the country as it sees India emerging as the world’s biggest market for electric bikes in the next four to five years.

The EV firm has partnered with 16 private companies in Delhi. Nearly six e-bike models of Sunra are under the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) test and two of its models are available in some of the showrooms.

Also Read- New Stretchable Battery Can Safely Store Power for Wearables

According to a TechSci Research report, electric vehicle market in India is forecast to reach nearly $2 billion by the financial year 2023.

As the Indian government firms up its EV plans, Chinese companies have already set their eyes on the EV sector roadmap in the country. (IANS)