China’s Huaneng plans major clean energy expansion

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China's biggest coastal power generator, state-controlled utility Huaneng, has laid out plans to add over 80GW of clean energy-based power capacity in the coming years, potentially curbing its demand for coal.

Huaneng plans to develop more than 80GW of additional clean energy power capacity by the end of 2025, taking clean energy to more than 50pc of the company's total installed generation capacity. It then aims to boost the share of clean energy capacity to 75pc of total installed capacity by the end of 2035.

Huaneng's total installed capacity was 182.78GW at the end of 2019, with thermal power capacity - which is mainly based on coal – accounting for 131.85GW or 72pc of this.

The utility's clean energy goals are in line with China's national strategy to curb carbon emissions and limit the use of coal. The government aims to cut the share of coal in China's energy mix to around 57.5pc of primary energy this year, the national energy administration (NEA) said in its 2020 guidelines for national energy development. This is a slight decline from 57.7pc in 2019.

The target is also marginally more ambitious than a previous goal of reducing coal's share to 58pc in 2020, which was set in the 13th national five-year plan released in 2016. More details of the next five-year plan for 2021-25 will be announced in March.

China added 190.87GW of power capacity in 2020, with hydro, wind and solar accounting for a combined 133.1GW of this, the NEA said.

China's coal consumption dipped in the first 11 months of 2020, as thermal power demand was hit by the Covid-19 outbreak earlier in the year and hydropower output rose during the summer. Coal use was 3.63bn t in January-November, down by 0.1pc on the year, according to coal industry association the CCTD. National thermal power generation reached 5,280TWh last year, edging 1.2pc higher compared with 2019.

Chinese coal demand could ease this month compared with December, when unusually cold weather and an economic rebound pushed domestic coal prices to historical highs. The onset of warmer weather in the east and south of the country has cut coal consumption at local utilities in recent days, which has started to weigh on coal prices.

Several cargoes of NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal traded at around 1,000-1,050 yuan/t ($154.70-162.40/t) fob north China ports today, down from trades as high as Yn1,100/t earlier this week. But today's prices are still well above the last Argus assessment of Yn960/t ($148.53/t) fob Qinhuangdao on 15 January.

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