Government's big rethink away from coal

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The Chinese government has announced plans to use a drop in electricity demand resulting from the economic downturn as an opportunity to restructure its energy industry, promoting renewable energy while phasing out low-yield thermal plant. The initiative will also boost modern coal technology and nuclear power. Zhang Guobao of the National Energy Administration (NEA) says the country must continue granting concessions for large scale wind farms such as the six 10 GW scale wind farms planned over the next decade to "promote domestic-based production of wind power equipment and gradually set up a wind power industrial system with Chinese characteristics." According to Zhang, China will also set a minimum capacity of 200 MW for inefficient coal plant, eliminating those not making the grade. The country plans to shut down small thermal power plant totalling 13 GW this year and 18 GW more over the next two years. During the same period, it will construct large scale, efficient coal plant totalling 50 GW. A large proportion of the 70 GW of new power projects awaiting approval this year, with gross investment of CNY 580 billion ($85 billion), will use coal or nuclear fuel. Officials at the NEA and Chinese Wind Energy Association say it is unclear how much of that money will be earmarked for wind.

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