China coal-fired power capacity on the rise

To cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to meet global demand, China has promised an ‘energy revolution’ aimed at reducing its reliance on coal. (AFP)
Updated 21 November 2019

China coal-fired power capacity on the rise

  • 40 new coal mines approved in the first three quarters of 2019

SHANGHAI: China raised its coal-fired power capacity by 42.9 gigawatts (GW), or about 4.5 percent, in the 18 months to June, connecting new projects to the grid at a time when capacity in the rest of the world shrank, according to a study published on Wednesday.

China also has another 121.3 GW of coal-fired power plants under construction, US-based research network Global Energy Monitor said in its report, nearly enough to power the whole of France.

The increase followed a 2014-2016 “permitting surge” by local governments aiming to boost growth while formerly suspended projects have also been restarted, Global Energy Monitor said. In the rest of the world, coal-fired power capacity fell 8.1 GW over the same period.

To cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, China has promised an “energy revolution” aimed at dramatically reducing its reliance on coal. It cut coal’s share of the country’s total energy from 68 percent in 2012 to 59 percent last year, and researchers predict it will fall to 55.3 percent by 2020.

Absolute coal consumption, however, has continued to increase in line with a rise in overall Chinese energy demand.

Environmental groups have accused Beijing of relaxing its efforts on coal, pointing to remarks in October by Premier Li Keqiang, who urged China to make greater use of its coal “endowment” by building clean power plants.

China approved 40 new coal mines in the first three quarters of 2019, and it has continued to make use of “green” financing to support coal-related projects.

China’s total coal-fired power capacity stands at more than 1,000 GW. Global Energy Monitor said it needed to close more than 40 percent of that to meet greenhouse gas reductions.

It urged the government to strengthen policies discouraging coal plants, support low-carbon power and move toward clean energy, while an investor body warned of the risk of building new coal-fired plants.

“Over 40 percent of China’s existing coal fleet is already estimated to be loss making,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

Though costs are now as low as fossil fuels, some Chinese policymakers worry renewables like wind and solar are unreliable, and there are concerns that decarbonisation will hurt the country’s coal regions.

Some also believe that future energy shortages could hurt China’s attempts to address its slowing economy, said Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a US environment group.

“Right now there is a big argument about whether China needs more coal-fired power or not,” he told Reuters. “They think the 14th five-year plan (2021-2025) will stimulate economic development and they are a little afraid there won’t be enough electricity to support the economy.”


$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

Updated 32 min 25 sec ago

$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

  • Overseas holdings in Istanbul stock exchange are at lowest in 16 years

ANKARA: Foreign capital is flooding out of Turkey in a massive vote of no confidence in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic competence.
Overseas investors have withdrawn nearly $8 billion from Turkish stocks since January, according to Central Bank statistics, reducing foreign investment in the Istanbul stock exchange from $32.3 billion to $24.4 billion.
As recently as 2013, the figure was $82 billion, and foreign investors now own less than 50 percent of stocks for the first time in 16 years.
“Foreign investment has left Turkey for several reasons, both internal and external,” Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Arab News.
“Externally, investors fled riskier assets like emerging markets during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those flows are returning, but investors are being much more discerning and Turkey does not seem so attractive.”
In terms of internal factors, Thin said that Turkish policymakers had made it hard for foreign investors to transact in Turkey. “This includes real money clients, not just speculative.
“By implementing ad hoc measures to try and limit speculative activity, Turkey has made it hard for real money as well. Besides these problems, Turkey’s fundamentals remain poor compared to much of the emerging markets.”
Erdogan allies claim international players are manipulating the Istanbul stock exchange through automated trading, and have demanded action to make it difficult for them to trade in Turkish assets.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Credit Suisse were banned this month from short-selling stocks for up to three months, and this year local lenders were briefly banned by the banking regulator from trading in Turkish lira with Citigroup, BNP Paribas and UBS
JPMorgan was investigated by Turkish authorities last year after the bank published a report that advised its clients to short sell the Turkish lira.
MSCI, the provider of research-based indexes and analytics, warned last month that it may relegate Turkey from emerging market status to frontier-market status because of bans on short selling and stock lending.
With the market becoming less transparent, overseas fund managers, especially with short-term portfolios, are unenthusiastic about the Turkish market and are becoming more concerned about any forthcoming introduction of other liquidity restrictions.
The exodus of foreign capital is likely to undermine Turkey’s drive for economic growth, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when employment and investment levels have gone down, with the Turkish lira facing serious volatility.