Shenhua Energy to expand fossil fuel plants despite carbon neutrality pledge?

China’s largest coal company, Shenhua Energy, has announced its intention to capitalise on the current energy security priorities set by the government by expanding its fossil fuel power plant operations before 2025. General manager Xu Mingjun revealed that the company has 11.75 gigawatts of coal and gas generation projects currently under construction, with a simultaneous review of previously delayed and suspended initiatives to determine their viability under current circumstances.

In addition to these efforts, Shenhua Energy is actively engaged in renovating and expanding its existing plants, with the aim of bringing these new projects online by 2025. Xu Mingjun emphasised that the company views this as an opportune moment for thermal power development in light of the ongoing optimisation of the nation’s power system.

These developments coincide with a surge in approvals for new coal-based power generation projects in China, which is already the world’s largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a recent joint report from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), China has approved a staggering 152 gigawatts of new coal plants since the start of 2022, surpassing the combined capacity of all coal plants in the European Union.

China has pledged to begin reducing emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. However, climate experts have expressed concerns that this timeline could permit the country’s industrial giants to continue building more environmentally detrimental plants throughout the remainder of this decade.

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