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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

China Okays Sale of First Home-Grown Drug for Treatment of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

A multi-centre global phase 3 clinical trial with sites in the US, Europe and Asia is planned to be initiated in early 2020

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Oligomannate will provide a new treatment option to fight Alzheimer's disease for patients and is expected to be available in China by the end of 2019, Green Valley Pharmaceutical said on Saturday. Pixabay

China has approved the first home-grown drug for the treatment of “mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and improving cognitive function”, according to its developers.

The new drug, Oligomannate (GV-971), is the first to be approved for Alzheimer’s disease globally since 2003, said Green Valley Pharmaceutical Co., which developed the drug along with Ocean University of China, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Oligomannate will provide a new treatment option to fight Alzheimer’s disease for patients and is expected to be available in China by the end of 2019, Green Valley Pharmaceutical said on Saturday.

A multi-centre global phase 3 clinical trial with sites in the US, Europe and Asia is planned to be initiated in early 2020 to support global regulatory filing of Oligomannate.

China, Home, Drug
The new drug, Oligomannate (GV-971), is the first to be approved for Alzheimer’s disease globally since 2003, said Green Valley Pharmaceutical Co., which developed the drug along with Ocean University of China, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences. Pixabay

An effective treatment for Alzheimer’s that affects about 48 million people in the world could easily become a big hit globally.

China’s National Medical Products Administration granted Oligomannate fast-track review in November 2018.

Over 800 patients with the diagnosis of mild to moderate Alzhemer’s disease completed the Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in 34 tier-1 hospitals across China.

Results of the 36-week-long study showed that Oligomannate can improve cognitive function in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease patients as early as week 4 and the benefit was sustained at each follow-up assessment visit.

Also Read- Bengal Focuses on Alternatives after Banning Stubble Burning

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that impairs memory, affecting the ability of patients to carry out simple tasks. (IANS)