BBC: China is Firming Wind and Solar Power with Coal Plants

Essay by Eric Worrall

There is something very Chinese about building co-located coal plants, to stabilise output from their solar and wind plants.

Climate change: China’s green power surge offers hope on warming

By Matt McGrath & Mark Poynting

BBC News Climate & Science

Wind and solar power are booming in China and may help limit global carbon emissions far faster than expected, according to a new study.

Solar panel installations alone are growing at a pace that would increase global capacity by 85% by 2025. 

The report says the country’s green energy targets for 2030 look set to be exceeded five years ahead of schedule.

But coal plants are also increasing, partly as backup for all the new wind and solar farms, the authors say.

Read more:

When we think of China, we think of people who (other than Taiwan) have an almost unbroken tradition of thousands of years of autocratic rule. But its easy to forget those same people have thousands of years of practice creatively interpreting the orders they are not allowed to disobey.

President Xi ordered them to build renewable plants, but renewable plants are unreliable. So the Chinese power plant owners are also building cheap coal plants to stabilise the output of their renewables. That way, they obey the central committee command to build more solar and wind, but also keep their stable and affordable energy supply.

No doubt if Xi orders them to close the coal plants, they’ll switch to gas instead – and put coal gasifiers next door to the re-purposed gas plants.

If Xi orders them to remove the gassifiers, they will relocate the gassifiers a plausible distance from the coal plants, so they can deny they knew they were receiving gas generated from coal, and lay a pipeline to from the gasifier to the gas generator.

If Xi orders them to remove the remote gassifiers, they’ll simply shut down the economy whenever the renewable power supply fails, until the Chinese Central Committee backs off.

A major quota driven economic shutdown actually happened in 2021, after everyone burned through their annual emissions reduction coal quota in 6 months. President Xi was apparently trying to pimp the Chinese economy’s success in reducing emissions, but as frequently occurs in Communist run states, the initiative got out of control. From what I have experienced of Chinese culture, I’m guessing everyone started trying to impress their boss by offering convincing arguments that even greater cuts were possible, amplifying the original orders to absurdity.

Disobedience and critical feedback are not an option in nations where the boss can have you shot, even when the instructions are absurd. So everyone accepted the quotas, but kept burning coal at more or less their normal rate. If anything an energy consumption race likely developed – nobody wanted to be left short if any new quota releases occurred, so everyone would have wanted to burn through their coal quota as quickly as possible.

When the coal quota ran out, regional managers simply shut down the Chinese economy, and waited until new orders were issued. The Central Committee caved, everyone blamed everyone else, and business at usual was allowed to resume.

My question – will the BBC write nice articles about our green progress, if Western energy companies start playing this game, and build co-located coal plants to firm Western renewable energy plants? Or does the BBC only give coal plant passes to communist dictatorships?

5 21 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bryan A
June 30, 2023 6:24 am

Yeah…um…that last thing you said

June 30, 2023 6:26 am

VW is cutting back production of electric vehicles because of “strong customer reluctance in thr electroc vehicle sector”.

story tip

Reply to  CampsieFellow
June 30, 2023 8:04 am

Translation: “We ain’t buyin’ this crap”.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  barryjo
June 30, 2023 12:08 pm

It may even be worse than stated. Possibly, they don’t even put expensive rare earth field magnets in. The windmills may have electro magnets taking power from the nearby coal power plant!

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 30, 2023 3:53 pm

There’s a big weight penalty for the generator in doing that I think. Either you strengthen the support tower, or you downsize the generator. Probably the latter, as in most locations you are also trying to harvest light winds. The average wind capacity factor in China last year was ~19.5% – nothing to write home about, and pushing up costs.

Reply to  CampsieFellow
June 30, 2023 9:26 am

Notice the reason for the reluctance is that governments across the EU are reducing the subsidies. Basically it’s a ploy to get governments back to giving big subsidies from the taxpayer.

Reply to  Bil
June 30, 2023 2:59 pm

I read somewhere that some 90%+ of the subsides end up being used by the top1% of money earners.

June 30, 2023 6:34 am

China seems to be in constant turmoil…it just finished the Covid lockdown due to its self inflicted virus … CCP has decided to mandate agriculture production by ripping crops out if the farmers did not follow orders….CCP is busy developing foreign entanglements…what a place!

Reply to  antigtiff
June 30, 2023 6:43 am

They have learned nothing from the 1930s, with the possible exception of how to bribe American politicians.

June 30, 2023 6:39 am

Meanwhile back in the real world, wind and solar only supply 13% of China’s electricity, and 7% of total energy:

Wind and solar output are increasing by about 2 Ej a year, but energy demand is rising by 5 Ej, according to BP

David Wojick
Reply to  Paul Homewood
June 30, 2023 7:42 am

Yes, small numbers can grow fast and still be small. China’s coal fired power production is vastly greater than their renewables output. It is also growing fast but the percentage increase is much smaller.

By the same token, in the US on a capacity factor basis we are adding more gas power than renewables. No one notices.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Paul Homewood
June 30, 2023 7:58 am


I looked through the EI report recently for an interview by the CowboyStateDaily and while the nearly constant 82% supply of world energy by fossil fuels is not surprising, I did find it surprising that the 5.32 EJ jump in electric consumption (2021->2022) from renewables was 60% the result of increases in Asia (3 EJ). I had expected the big contribution would come from North America where we can’t do enough to promote renewables. But as Eric says here, it is difficult to fully understand what goes on in China because of opaqueness and distorted incentives.

Another surprise in that report was the drop of 1.1 EJ from nuclear.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
June 30, 2023 9:52 am

It is noticeable that the growth in coal use in China and particularly India was sufficient to offset its decline in other regions. In total global coal production rose by over 7% reaching a record high of 175EJ. China, India and Indonesia accounted for 95% of that growth.

Coal remained the dominant fuel for power production at 35.4%, Natural Gas at 23%, unreliables 12%. China was responsible for 37% of solar and 41% of wind growth.

In key minerals the price of lithium carbonate rose 335% to an average record high of $47000/tonne. Cobalt rose 24% to $64,000/tonne

June 30, 2023 6:39 am

Eric, You are making Xi-Jinping sound like he cares about Climate Change? I think the reality is Way Darker than that:

Top 3 Solar Manufacturers are from China. LONGi, Trina Solar, and Jinko Solar.
Out of the Top 10 Windmill Manufacturers, the No 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 are from China (See link below)

Top 10 Wind Turbine Manufacturers in the World 2022 – BizVibe

Xi JinPing is improving on Lenin’s Theory: “The Capitalists Will Sell Us the Rope with Which We Will Hang Them”.
Xi’s version “We Will Sell Them the Rope with Which They Will Hang Themselves (Economically Speaking)”

It is a Marketing Ploy – Everybody buy more Solar Panels and Windmills to save the Planet! Who benefits? CHINA!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 30, 2023 7:41 am

Agreed, thanks for putting up the Post! it is very timely.

The Texas Tribune was gloating earlier this week how ERCOT, the TEXAS Power Authority got 20% Solar to contribute to the Grid on Tuesday.

Solar power proves its worth as heat wave grips the state (

So, on Wednesday I logged on to ERCOT Dashboard and followed the Day, hour by hour, to see what Solar really does – Daily total: 6.94% of Demand covered by Solar:

Max Hourly Contribution: 14pm – 11,436 MW – 15.35%
Average All Day Contribution: 24 hours – 4,910 MW – 6.94%

At no point would there have been a Blackout had there been no SOLAR at all, there was enough spare capacity.

My opinion about Solar: A feel good, We Care, Extreme Value Signaling Liberal Signature High Horse Issue! Only possible and pursued due to enormous Tax Cuts and Incentives and Legislative Requirements (IRA, BBB) forcing it, a Top-Down Management Style Solution (Bidenomics)!

Reply to  Sailor76
June 30, 2023 9:41 am

The Texans go to bed the same time as solar and do not get up until the next day when solar does?

Solar night-time contribution is NET ZERO, it is total horse manure

How would Tesla make its EVs on a 24-h basis?

Why use valuable gas, when coal is just as good.

CO2 is a life gas, makes things grow, including ourselves

Reply to  wilpost
July 1, 2023 4:42 pm

You didn’t see the hoopla about the team that developed ‘solar’ cells that run at night? They are powered by the infrared that radiates after the sun goes down. Very exciting news!

Can you imagine the size of the array that will be required to run just one home? Have they done the math to figure out how much power they can get from that?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 30, 2023 7:56 am
More Soylent Green!
Reply to  Sailor76
June 30, 2023 9:38 am

Western politicians are always such fools when dealing with dictatorships such as China. We give away concessions now in exchange for promises in the future. Look how we normalized trade relations 30 years with China on the promises of market reforms that China still has not made. Look at Obama’s idiotic Iran nuclear deal, or Biden’s attempt for a new Iran nuclear deal. Our enemies get something concrete now and we get empty promises.

June 30, 2023 6:42 am

Will all these Chinese PV systems really last 25 years?

Reply to  karlomonte
June 30, 2023 8:19 am

C’mon, do you really have to ask?

Bryan A
Reply to  karlomonte
June 30, 2023 10:54 am

More likely 2.5 years. The decimal was slightly off

Ron Long
June 30, 2023 6:45 am

The BBC and CNN are having an Enablers Race to the Bottom. Place your bets.

Reply to  Ron Long
June 30, 2023 6:51 am

Yeah, Right on! This is shameless Propaganda or Free Advertising?

9 hours ago
World’s largest carbon emitter set to shatter wind and solar power targets
Despite being the world’s number one carbon emitter, China is on track to reach solar and wind goals five years ahead of schedule.See more

Reply to  Sailor76
June 30, 2023 7:32 am

Just because they build them doesn’t mean they use them – see here about electric cars;

It doesnot add up
Reply to  PariahDog
June 30, 2023 4:00 pm

Indeed so. Things get erected, and then not connected to the grid. But the target to build them was met. It’s how centrally planned economies work.

Tom Halla
June 30, 2023 6:50 am

Normal logic for the Bolshevik Broadcasting Company

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 30, 2023 8:07 am

To be fair, it is the Goverrnment who has instructed the BBC that they are not permitted to broadcast anything which opposes the ACGW message, on pain of instant dismissal.

Ronald Stein
June 30, 2023 7:36 am

Unwilling to continue the pursuit of occasional electricity from wind and solar, Sweden Shocks Europe: Abandons ‘Unstable’ Green Energy Agenda, Returns to Nuclear Power.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 30, 2023 9:43 am



Turnkey Capital Cost of 30,000 MW of Offshore Wind

The turnkey capital cost for wind systems would be about 30,000 MW x $4,000,000/MW = $120 BILLION, that includes underwater cabling to shore, but excludes:

1) The cost of financing during high inflation, high interest years, which likely adds about 30% to the project LCOE

2) The cost of government subsidies and financial benefits, which are equivalent to about 50% of the project LCOE, which enables Owners to sell their output at about 50% less cost/kWh, than without them, to reinforce the fantasy wind and solar are inexpensive and competitive with fossil.

3) The LCOE of onshore grid extension/reinforcement, which is charged directly to ratepayers, taxpayers and to government debts.

4) The LCOE of counteracting the variable wind (and solar) outputs, because they could not be fed into the grid without a fleet of quick-reacting power plants to counteract the ups and downs of wind (and solar), and fill in to meet demand during their insufficiency and absence, including during the peak demand hours of late-afternoon/early-evening, on a less than minute-by-minute basis, 24/7/365, year after year

The capital cost in 2022 and later years, and resulting cost of electricity production, c/kWh, have significantly increased, due to: 1) increased inflation rates, 2) increased interest rates, 3) supply chain disruptions, which delay projects and increase costs, 4) increased energy prices, such as of oil, gas, coal, electricity, etc., 5) increased materials prices, such as of tungsten, cobalt, lithium, copper, manganese, etc., 6) increased labor rates.

As a result, the spreadsheets of the US East Coast offshore wind project, used for negotiating prices, c/kWh, do no longer make sense.
Owners/Developers want to renegotiate and delay projects.

They want to force ratepayers and taxpayers to pay more for wind electricity per kWh for the next 20 years, to ensure providing a generous return on investment to Owners/Developers 

Huge UK/US Offshore Wind Turbine Build Outs are Pure Fantasies

UK government bureaucrats, etc., justify the build out of 26,000 MW of additional wind turbines by 2030, in less than 7 years, because: 1) the UK is the “Saudi Arabia of Wind”, and 2) several hundred thousand new jobs will be created, and 3) household electric bills will be lower. 

It took more than 23 years for the UK to expensively build 14,000 MW of offshore wind turbines by end 2022, that produce high-cost electricity, and caused greatly increased household electric bills.
How many steady, long-term jobs, with good benefits, were created due to wind turbines in the UK?

BTW, Biden wants to build 30,000 MW offshore wind turbines by 2030, a pure fantasy, that thus far has been killing dozens of whales, before even a single 850-ft-tall wind turbine has been erected!
A UK/US total of 56,000 MW in 7 years, or 8,000 MW/y

There exists no worldwide physical infrastructure to do that: All five of Europe’s wind turbine manufacturers have been making huge losses for 30 months

The industry in Europe has told the EU: “We simply don’t have enough factories and infrastructure to build and install the volumes Europe wants”

Wind Europe CEO, Giles Dickson in a Press release, 16 March 2023, ‘EU Green Industry Plan falls short for now’

Plus, the UK 26,000 MW build-out would be at much higher turnkey cost per MW, and would produce much more expensive electricity, c/kWh, than the existing 14,000 MW of offshore wind turbines

How in hell do these demented bureaucrats get into these jobs?
Why do their words get magnified by the government-subsidized media mouthpieces?

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 30, 2023 9:45 am

Occasional electricity is pretty good, if compared to random electricity.
With random, there never is any let up.

Kevin Kilty
June 30, 2023 7:47 am

I am a bit baffled by the use of coal plants per se to accomplish this balancing as a matter of design but then we have to think of it being “so Chinese”. Coal plants, which must raise steam, are a bit slow for fully balancing renewables and attempts to do so wear the thermal plant out faster than optimum use would. In the U.S. we were/are driven to balance coal thermal plants against some fraction of renewables because it is what we had available as renewables began invading the generation fleet. I believe that the many plans in the U.S. to retire coal plants before their permits expire are driven by this. Utilities have been using a combination of coal, gas, and hydro to balance wind. The official “narrative” about early closure of coal plants is, of course, that solar and wind are cheaper thus a benefit to the customer.

Simple cycle gas plants are more capable of balancing renewables, but rapid changes in output and short power runs reduce their efficiency greatly.

I recently calculated that a SCNG plant at 25% efficiency (efficiency could be as low as 20%) has about the same mass of CO2 emitted per unit energy delivered as an advanced ultrasupercritical (AUSC) plant run on Powder River Basin* coal — both around 1.1-1.2MWhr per tonne CO2.

*-caveat. I am not a boiler designer and don’t know if an AUSC boiler could be made to run on PRB coal. I assumed so for purposes of the comparison.

Ed Reid
June 30, 2023 8:02 am

So are most other countries with renewable generation.

Ed Reid
June 30, 2023 8:03 am

So are most other countries with renewable generation.

June 30, 2023 9:19 am

Eric, I wish we wouldn’t adopt the deceptive terminology that the climate crisis cult insists on inflicting on us.

To wit – “firming” of wind & solar generation.

How about we use – “propping up” wind & solar.

Richard Page
Reply to  Mr.
June 30, 2023 9:58 am

I don’t even think it’s that charitable. Most of the expansion of renewables is in the remote, sparsely populated western regions with lower power requirements – it’s then mixed with the co-located coal plants and then sent along power lines to the eastern, coastal regions with higher power requirements. Given that Xi Jinping has mandated a 50%+ renewable power generation, I think they’re able to downplay the amount of coal generated power in the mix, announce that renewables are providing a greater percentage than they actually are and who’s ever going to find out? I think there might be a certain amount of illusion going on behind the scenes in order to satisfy Beijing.

R Taylor
June 30, 2023 9:48 am

H/T Jed Babbin, powering an industrial economy without wind and solar is like deer hunting without your accordion.

June 30, 2023 10:21 am

China uses more coal than the rest of the world combined and it increases every year (IEA). The wind and solar energy installations aren’t keeping up with the increase in energy use much less displacing it. Framing China as a renewable energy leader is a lost cause. Past the time to sic the environmentalists on China to get the biggest bang for their efforts. I suspect with enough pressure China would declare AGW a non issue knowing that they realize to reduce emissions would put their industry at the same disadvantage they caused the rest of the world.

June 30, 2023 12:00 pm

Meanwhile in the UK, one need look no further than off shore wind farm revenues to the Crown Estate in the UK – 440Mn in 2022
That goes direct to the Govt treasury and then a % goes to the Royal Family for their upkeep – alleged to be 111Mn from 2022’s income
Thats a lot of money for renting out your nations sea bed
As always, follow the money – no wonder Charlie loves renewables

June 30, 2023 12:07 pm

China and the 1500+ Clintel WCD signatories know there is no climate emergency

Reply to  Energywise
June 30, 2023 1:30 pm

True, but China will happily sell you all the Solar Panels and Windmills that President Biden and the “United States Special Envoy for Climate”, John Kerry knows that we need to fight that so-called Climate Emergency

June 30, 2023 12:35 pm

Where in the west could anyone build a coal/gas/ or other thermal plant without central committee approval, then many years worth of permitting and fighting lawsuits?

June 30, 2023 7:37 pm

Very sensible really; build renewables for show, and build coal to ensure the country will continue to function normally.

Gregg Eshelman
July 1, 2023 12:42 am

Chinese car companies have manufactured large numbers of electric vehicles, “sold” and registered them then parked them in fields.

Why? They’re taking advantage of Chinese government EV subsidies. They did it a previous time when the government was handing out money for EVs. I suspect they’ve done the same trick as the first time, driving the cars to the fields, removing the batteries and taking them back to the factory to be installed in the next batch.

Some of the cars in the video are EVs from failed car rental or sharing companies, which were also most likely established to scam the government.

There’s a guy who calls himself The Electric Viking who has posted a video “debunking” Serpentza’s video, claiming all the cars in the fields are ICE cars and that EVs really are the majority of sales in China.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
July 1, 2023 6:48 am

According to the IEA EV sales worldwide exceeded 10m in 2022 with 60% being sold in China. China now has more than half of all EVs in the world on the road. Europe is the second largest market and EV sales rose 15% in 2022. The US is the third largest market with sales rising to 8% of cars sold in 2022. However, relative growth was lower than the doubled sales in 2020-21.

IEA ‘Global EV Outlook 2023: Catching up with climate ambitions’ 26th April 2023.

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Andrews
July 1, 2023 8:19 am

“China now has more than half of all EV’s in the world on the road.” They are documented to be active and on the road but, in reality, huge numbers have been parked up in fields and left to rot. The result of failed businesses and manufacturer’s taking advantage of Beijing’s subsidies that the Chinese people didn’t want. They are considered ‘active’ only so that China’s leaders may save face and avoid public embarrassment.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights