Greenpeace report estimates 13th Five Year Plan period could see 700 billion RMB wasted on coal fired electricity

Press release - 2015-11-18
Beijing, November 18, 2015 – A collaborative report by Greenpeace East Asia and North China Electric Power University reveals that up to 700 billion RMB could be invested in the coal power industry over the 13th five year plan period, in spite of an already serious overcapacity problem. The report, Coal Power Overcapacity and the Investment Bubble in China, analyses trends in coal power during the 12th Five Year Plan period and provides projections for the 13th Five Year Plan period. Based on this, it clarifies the extent of the problem, the urgency of the need to address it and makes policy recommendations accordingly.

“With the 13th Five Year Plan just around the corner, and the Paris climate talks set to begin, China needs to hit the brakes on the out of control expansion in its coal power sector,” said Greenpeace East Asia Climate and Energy campaigner Dong Liansai.                                                              

The report’s key findings include:

  • Current utilisation rate of power generation units is at its lowest rate since 1978, and continuing to fall.
  • By 2020 total overcapacity in China’s coal power sector could reach 200GW, equivalent to more than the EU’s total coal fired power plant capacity (170GW) [1].
  • ○     Of the five analysed provinces (Shanxi, Xinjiang, Hebei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang), Shanxi and Xinjiang will have the most severe overcapacity problem, with excesses of 21GW and 15.5GW respectively.
  • Total expenditure on the construction of coal fired power plants over the next five years could reach 700 billion RMB.
  • The overcapacity and investment problem will be an obstacle to China’s low-carbon, renewable energy transition due to capital absorption and the conflict between excess coal capacity and renewable energy.

Greenpeace East Asia raises the following policy recommendations:

  • The expansion of coal power plants should immediately be brought under control. No new permits for coal fired power plants should be issued during the 13th FYP period.
  • The construction of coal power plants that have already been issued permits should be re-evaluated within the context of the 13th FYP overall electricity development plan. 
  •  Overall power planning should be developed to coordinate different power sources and allow for renewable energy integration.
  • The central government should release information on power planning for the 13th FYP and establish an early warning mechanism on coal power investment in order to better inform and guide market investment.
  •  Coordination between various departments should be strengthened to ensure policies are better realised.


[1] Based on end of 2014 statistics from the UDI World Electric Power Plants Database



Media contact:

Tom Baxter,
International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia,
phone: +86 188 1134 4861

Greenpeace International Press Desk
email: ,
phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)


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