Climate Champion China Ramping Up Government Funding for Fossil Fuel

China’s burgeoning coal power industry

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Renewable advocates are concerned some fossil fuel projects are receiving a share of China’s “new energy” subsidies.

Why China’s Renewable Energy Transition Is Losing Momentum

Growth of wind and solar in China is slowing as government funding for green energy falters and upgrades to the transmission infrastructure lag. With China’s CO2 emissions again on the rise, experts worry the world’s largest emitter may fall short of key climate goals.

After plateauing from 2014 to 2016, China’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen in the last several years, with an estimated 4 percent increase in the first half of 2019. While coal consumption and production peaked in 2013, both have increased again since 2017 and are slowly creeping back to 2013 levels. 

Reliance on gas from fracking in the Sichuan basin, as well as coal-bed methane extraction and increased imports of natural gas (China is the second-largest natural gas importer in the world), are on the rise. Since China counts unconventional gases like shale gas and coal-bed methane as “new energy,” they are eligible for subsidies from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology [MIIT]. Roughly $830 million — more than 80 percent of an MIIT new energy fund — went to subsidizing such projects in 2018, according to a recent report by the state-run China Energy News.

While continuing to fund unconventional gas, China has now largely stopped providing national-level subsidies to wind and solar projects and is implementing reforms to its feed-in-tariff system, moving to replace it with auctions in which wind and solar power must compete directly with fossil fuels.

This process has started to slow the overall added capacity for wind and solar. While new solar photovoltaic installations hit an all-time high of 53 gigawatts [GW] in 2017, they slipped to around 41 GW last year and current figures put solar installations at slightly more than 11 GW for the first half of 2019. Projections are for about 25 GW of solar power to be installed this year and in succeeding years through 2025, an amount that would not sharply curtail fossil fuel use

Another problem is that renewable energy projects are facing land-use restrictions that protect agricultural, industrial, and urban land in provinces like Guangdong in South China, the country’s economic powerhouse, says Jonathan Luan Dong, a renewables analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. While several non-subsidized renewable energy projects had been scheduled to start in Guangdong in 2019, few actually seem to be moving forward. 

When I attempted to visit renewable energy projects that were said to be in the works, government offices and companies in the Guangdong cities of Jiangmen, Meizhou, and Zhanjiang declined my requests because the projects hadn’t started.

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I don’t understand why selling power on the open market, competing directly with coal, is such a problem. Green advocates including the Australian CSIRO repeatedly assure us that renewable energy is cheaper than coal, even without government subsidies and assistance.

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John F. Hultquist
September 29, 2019 6:38 pm

With China’s CO2 emissions again on the rise, experts worry the world’s largest emitter may fall short of key climate goals.

They promised to continue increasing CO2 emissions until 2030 — or something such as that, at the meeting in Paris. They are trying to clean the air in their cities.
That is hard to do as both the USA & England learned in the 40s & 50s.

Someone else’s ‘climate goals’ are not China’s climate goals, if they have any such.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
September 29, 2019 7:31 pm

They are trying to clean the air in their cities.
That is hard to do as both the USA & England learned in the 40s & 50s.

The US and England and a lot of other places got it done in the 1960s an 1970s. I was tough back then.
These days, the science and technology is all worked out, and has been for half a century. China will clean up as they make up their collective mind to do so. All your real pollutants of concern like oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, fly ash, even mercury are all addressed with off-the-shelf equipment.
I do not understand why people insist that cleaning up a power plant is hard. It is not. You just have to make up your mind to do it.

Flying across the Atlantic in 1930 was hard. Fifty years later in 1980, people did it reading a magazine or watching a movie. Amazing the difference half a century makes.

Roger Knights
Reply to  TonyL
September 30, 2019 11:09 am

“I do not understand why people insist that cleaning up a power plant is hard. It is not. You just have to make up your mind to do it.”

I’ve read that local plant managers turn off the scrubbers after the inspectors leave (or are bribed to look the other way), because scrubbing reduces the efficiency of their plant, which is what they are graded on.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
September 29, 2019 8:12 pm

In June they lifted the ban of raw coal as a domestic heating fuel (which was only three years old). There is simply not enough gas, electricity and district heating to meet the demand.

That is why there is so much talk about high efficiency low emissions (HELE) coal stoves.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
September 30, 2019 8:44 am

Take a look here and see who is actually leading the charge on coal-fired generation.
This graphic from EIA shows changes in the consumption of coal worldwide.
I suggest you Click on ‘Energy Source’ – Coal and change Visualization to ‘Column Chart’ and
click on CONSUMPTION at the bottom near the run controls.
Run the animation and see how worldwide consumption of coal as an energy source has shot-up since 1992 (no figures for the USSR before then).
Global Coal consumption for electricity generation has gone up massively.
From 2000 to there finish date of 2016 coal has really taken-off!
This graphically shows China’s humongous up-take in coal consumption overshadows all others across the globe.
China alone — ~1.5 billion short tons in 2000, to ~4.25 billion short tons in 2016.

Tom Abbott
September 29, 2019 6:39 pm

Alarmists have set themselves an impossible task of reducing CO2 production. They might as well give it up and start mitigation planning. Not that there will be much mitigation to do, imo, since CO2 is a benign gas, but planning for it will keep the Alarmists busy.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 29, 2019 7:54 pm

I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked!

China is increasing fossil fuel consumption and building more and more coal-fired power plants.

Who could have foreseen such an improbable event?

Oh yes, I did, way back in 2002…

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Reference: APEGA’s “Debate on the Kyoto Accord”, published in the PEGG November 2002, reprinted by other professional journals, The Globe and Mail and La Presse
by Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae, November 2002

and recently:

“12. Fossil fuels comprise fully 85% of global primary energy, unchanged in decades, and unlikely to change in future decades.

The remaining 15% of global primary energy is almost all hydro and nuclear.

Eliminate fossil fuels tomorrow and almost everyone in the developed world would be dead in about a month from starvation and exposure.”
“CO2, Global Warming, Climate And Energy”
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 13, 2019

Anyone who believes the global warming alarmists false propaganda deserves what they get; as for the rest of us, it’s time to kick these batsh!t crazy warmist fanatics off our island.

Nicholas McGinley
September 29, 2019 6:40 pm

“Green advocates including the Australian CSIRO repeatedly assure us that renewable energy is cheaper than coal, even without government subsidies and assistance.”

They are lying!

September 29, 2019 6:50 pm

This all sounds like traditional Chinese Common Sense to me and is very encouraging news for the Global struggle against Climate Insanity.

September 29, 2019 6:54 pm

But wait, the green gang has been assuring us that wind and solar are much cheaper than fossil fuels.
If so, why the worry about having to compete with fossil fuels. In a fair competition, wouldn’t the cheapest fuel win?

Reply to  MarkW
September 30, 2019 8:12 am

You pay for what you get .
In South Australia and Victoria , when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining , they have have so much power it is given away to the lowest bidder .
Meanwhile the base load coal / gas producers are going broke , but will have to supply on demand when night falls , and the wind drops .
This system is out of control , affecting the eastern states of queensland and new south wales .
Elec prices have trebled since S.A and Vic in particular opted for cheap renewable energy .

September 29, 2019 6:56 pm

In a very real, or “Realpolitick” sense, China has done what many advocates in the US claim to want.
For several years wind and solar were subsidized to aid in developing the industries. Sounds good. With the products developed and the production lines turning out goods, the subsidies have done their job. Time to let the new industries compete on their own terms. China is overall not a wealthy society. It can not afford to endlessly subsidize a boutique enterprise. The industry has been established and now must demonstrate it’s worth to survive. It is a very pragmatic policy.

This is very much what the advocates in the US are telling us they want. Right up to the point when the time comes to cut subsidies.

September 29, 2019 6:57 pm

I don’t understand why selling power on the open market, competing directly with coal, is such a problem. Green advocates including the Australian CSIRO repeatedly assure us that renewable energy is cheaper than coal, even without government subsidies and assistance.

They can’t have it both ways. Either it makes economic sense, or it doesn’t. The trouble is that scientists are experts on speculation and hypothesis and theory whereas engineers are experts on reality. In theory renewable energy is wonderful. In reality it isn’t.

Randy Stubbings
Reply to  commieBob
September 29, 2019 9:19 pm

And in theory communism is wonderful, but in reality it isn’t.

Reply to  Randy Stubbings
September 30, 2019 12:51 am

I’m struggling to find the original quote, but I did find this:

The first thing we need to debunk is the on-paper-validity myth. Could you imagine a scientist, after observing a theory consistently fail when applied over decades, insist that it works on paper? Unless he was a climate-change warmist, he’d be laughed out of his field. link


Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  commieBob
September 29, 2019 10:59 pm

Economic studies that include the cost of backup for no sun/no wind conditions will not show that renewables are cheaper than coal or gas.
Many renewables promotions, even by politicians, assume a no-backup scenario and some go further, to including a long taper for renewables subsidy cessation. You might get cost equivalence these ways, but it is misleading and disappears when the devices are put into production. Geoff S

September 29, 2019 7:09 pm


When I attempted to visit renewable energy projects that were said to be in the works, government offices and companies in the Guangdong cities of Jiangmen, Meizhou, and Zhanjiang declined my requests because the projects hadn’t started.”

Nice of you to wake up. Now you should smell the crap you’ve been peddling.

Bruce Cobb
September 29, 2019 7:12 pm

“We build green crack cheap – here, you try”.
“You like? We thought you would, even cheaper now, so you buy more.”
“See? We even use our own green crack, to show you how good it is”.
“We are currently building up our economy, and building industry, so need to use other energy, not so much green crack. You keep using though, yes?”

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 30, 2019 11:39 am

Bruce Cobb;
Almost choked on my drink!!
Greatly appreciated.


William Haas
September 29, 2019 7:17 pm

If countries are really interested in reducing the burning of fossil fuels then replacing fossil fueled power plants with nuclear powered power plants is the only real viable alternative.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  William Haas
September 30, 2019 4:30 am

Nuclear energy is the way forward. If Alarmists were serious about reducing CO2 without destroying the economies of the world, then nuclear energy would be what they promote. A Nuclear energy future is the only way out of their CO2 problem. Any realists out there in Alarmist Land?

September 29, 2019 7:21 pm

China has other real problems to worry about and realize decreasing fossil fuel use will only hurt their plans. They are headed into recession and they will do anything to stop it and keep the masses happy. The economic house of cards Globalization handed them is collapsing and they know it. There’s been some/little holding their feet to the fire on CC so we can expect them to continue ignoring their role. They know playing the “developing nation” card isn’t acceptable to other nations.

September 29, 2019 7:58 pm

In western countries the subsidies are designed more to shovel cash at desired recipients. Big political donor gets in the wind business and gets millions of dollars in grants and favorable feed-in agreements. Generally what follows that is the business goes bankrupt, the big political donors walk away with their huge salaries and bonuses in the bank and the taxpayer picks up the tab. The subsidies aren’t really about fostering technology. Wind generated electricity has been around since the turn of the 20th century. It’s a mature technology. All we are adding now are various refinements. Electric vehicles are a mature technology, we are now just refining the batteries. People drove around on the surface of the moon in an electric car almost 40 years ago. More importantly, none of this is going to have any influence on the climate. The climate is just the boogeyman they have invented to scare people into giving up their cash.

Eve Stevens
September 29, 2019 9:09 pm

I am afraid that the climate as boogeyman was invented to scare people into giving up more than their cash. It was invented to scare people into giving up their freedoms.

September 29, 2019 9:22 pm

Run your car at 30 mph for an hour. Measure how much gas you used to go 30 miles.

Now, same car, same highway. Floor it to 60 mph, then immediately hit the brakes and over roughly the distance you’ve gone so far, back down to zero. Repeat for an hour after which you should be able to measure the amount of gas you used to go 30 miles.

What’s that? Shocker? You used 10 times as much gas to go the same distance?

Congrats. You now understand the high cost of variability versus steady state. The moment you introduce solar and wind into a power grid, even if they are free, the rest of the grid has to alternately floor it and then brake to make up for the variability of the solar and wind. The more solar and wind you have, the more flooring and braking needs to be done.

An imperfect analogy perhaps, but close enough to explain why every power utility that winds up using large amounts of “low cost” electricity winds up with higher electricity bills. The Chinese are no different. When it gets ludicrously expensive to the point where their industries can no longer compete, the do the same thing everyone else is doing. Keep on bragging about their green credentials while quietly doing what they need to in order to keep the economy going.

Tim Crome
Reply to  davidmhoffer
September 29, 2019 10:40 pm

That’s a good analogy.

The difference is however that, as a driver, you can choose how to use the pedals. A power station balancing unreliables has no control.

Berndt Koch
Reply to  davidmhoffer
September 30, 2019 7:56 am

Nice and understandable analagy. I had to use a similar one with a friend who didn’t understand the difference between wind turbine nameplate output versus actual output.. I asked him if the top speed of his car is 100 mph, given current conditions, roads traffic, stops for fuel, etc. could he drive the 2500 miles from San Francisco to New York in 25 hours? Just because his car CAN go 100 mph doesn’t mean it always does..

He then got the difference.. and the change in his facial expression was very telling, he realized he’d been lied to

September 29, 2019 10:04 pm

Renewable drivers, unreliable converters.

Mark Broderick
September 29, 2019 10:06 pm

“Hurricane Lorenzo becomes the strongest on record in the eastern Atlantic Ocean”

Weird !

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Mark Broderick
September 30, 2019 10:55 am

The probable path of this storm was recently adjusted northward to cross the Faroe Islands — but at reduced intensity. Earlier it was expected to cross northern Ireland and Scotland.
Continuing as now expected, it will not be a really big deal. The folks there have seen such before.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Mark Broderick
September 30, 2019 4:09 pm

“On Record”. Of course, the record for the Eastern Atlantic Ocean is quite short. It could only be monitored once the satellite era started.

Fred Chittenden
September 29, 2019 10:36 pm

CO2 is a non-problem as far as Climate goes. Yes, there’s a lot of CO2 entering the biosphere every day from all sorts of sources. However, the average concentration of CO2 in the air remains pretty near rare gas levels of 4 molecules per 10,000 air molecules… That’s about a rare as the craziest person in all four years of students in a typical high school.

Just as there’s no way the one crazy person in high school could win a tug of war against the entire student body, there’s no way that 4 molecules per 10,000 can magically increase the speed of the other 10,000 molecules in the air to make the air significantly warmer… Real Science, real chemistry and real physics just doesn’t work at that way…

What’s happening is simple — plants are very effective at removing CO2 from the air and converting it into more plant material via photosynthesis, and many critters eat plants, so more critters are the result, etc, etc… NASA and other’s have recently noted that the planet is greening, but at the same time, without any significant CO2 concentration increases.

The reality is life on earth is carbon based. A primary way that carbon moves around the biosphere is via CO2 in the air… More CO2 entering the biosphere, more life on earth…

As for China, they have lots of people, and people need stuff to eat, so having more plants growing helps that cause… Less CO2 would mean less plants — some might starve more than they are today… Could China’s CO2 energy or energy in China in general be cleaner — yes… Given time, that too is likely to happen, even in China….

September 30, 2019 12:45 am

If Australians CSIRO says that renewable are cheaper than coal, why do
most politicians still say that subsidies are needed, plus Back Up.

Answer, either they are on the make, or they are stupid, perhaps both .


Steve Z
September 30, 2019 10:30 am

UN Elites: China MUST decrease its CO2 emissions by 2030.

Xi Jinping: How are you gonna make me?

UN Elites: Maybe you’ll lose face in the UN.

Xi Jinping: And?

UN Elites: (crickets)

Rudolf Huber
September 30, 2019 1:53 pm

China always hoped that they will be able to feed on a bubble in the Western world that required subsidies for purchasing new wind and solar energy generation units. As usual, they mass-produced and swamped the market. But only delivering the cheapest units was not enough. They drove prices down artificially in order to put renewables on steroids in the west getting them hooked in the process. This was interpreted as solar and wind become cheaper when in fact it was only China rigging the market. Now, the drawbacks such as grid instability become apparent plus NIMBY starts to bite. New Western RE goes down, China tries to pimp its own market in order to prevent massive write-downs and that wrecks state finances. Now, the weight of the wrecked finances heavier than the threat of a write-down. Don’t feed a monster that will devour you.

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