Global energy consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, has compiled a report, which forecasts that China will continue to rely on coal-fired power generation in order to capture additional demand growth.

While Beijing is striving to increase its nuclear power capability, as part of an environmentally-friendly strategy, the country is unlikely to make its 200 GW nuclear power target by 2030, leaving coal to bridge the gap.
Coal power cooling towers
The report says China would make significant progress in its nuclear endeavours, with capacity increasing from 14.6 GW in 2013 to 175 GW by 2030, but the inability to meet its targets would translate into opportunities for coal producers to capture additional demand growth.

Woodmac’s head of Asia Pacific gas and power research, Gavin Thompson said that

Nuclear is falling short of government targets. “The government targets 200 GW of nuclear capacity, which would make up 11 per cent of the power generation mix by 2030. In reality, we forecast nuclear capacity to reach 175 GW by then, making up just 10 per cent of the power generation mix: equivalent to a 2.3 per cent annual growth, from 14.6 GW of nuclear capacity in 2013.”

Woodmac also forecast that by 2030, China‘s nuclear capacity would account for 30 per cent of the world’s total nuclear fleet but outlined also the contributory elements to a shortfall.

“Our expectations for a lower level of installed nuclear capacity compared to the government’s target are based on a number of factors: operational and siting challenges, constraints on the pace of local nuclear technology development; lack of skilled and trained personnel, lack of supporting infrastructure for uranium fuel fabrication and disposal and a lack of full support by the public in building inland plants. As such, it’s likely that some of the planned and proposed capacity build will be delayed or cancelled,” Thompson added.

“Our nuclear outlook for China reinforces Wood Mackenzie’s view that coal will continue to play a dominant role in power generation in the foreseeable future, even with the successful implementation of new environmental measures. While nuclear will moderate the growth in coal-fired generation, China’s coal story is far from over.”

Meanwhile in the US the Supreme Court has paved the way for environmental regulators to curb soot and smog emissions from coal-fired power stations that cause pollution in neighbouring US states in a move that has been described as dangerous and costly by coal sector interests.

Under the now-permitted regulations, coal plants will be ordered to keep emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides within defined limits, a requirement likely to necessitate new investments in scrubbers and other technology.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which represents coal miners and generators, described the court’s decision as a “dangerous and costly” ruling.

You can read the report in more detail here

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