China's energy regulator halts over 100 coal-fired power projects

China's energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop over 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts,  to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world's top energy market.

In a document issued on 14 January, financial media group Caixin reported the coal projects, some of which were already under construction, had been suspended by the National Energy Administration (NEA).

The projects worth some 430 billion yuan ($62 billion) were to have come up across several provinces and autonomous regions including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi and other northwestern areas.

Putting the power projects on hold is seen as a major step towards the government's effort to generate power from renewable sources such as solar and wind, and wean the country off coal, which accounted for the majority of the nation's power supply.

"Stopping under-construction projects seems wasteful and costly, but spending money and resources to finish these completely unneeded plants would be even more wasteful," said Greenpeace in a statement.

The move comes after similar initiatives last year. Also the government had said in November that it would eliminate or delay at least 150 GW of coal-fired power projects between 2016 and 2020 and cap coal power generation at 1,100 GW.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the under-construction projects would not go ahead as part of measures outlined in its Five Year Plan, Greenpeace reported.
The report's electricity chapter noted that Beijing committed to a coal capacity cap of 1,10GW, but the new builds would have taken that figure to 1250GW, breaching the limit set by the government.

The development comes after the NEA said it would plough 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, as China continued to shift away from coal power towards cleaner fuels.

With the investment, more than 13 million jobs would be created in the sector, as the agency estimated renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power would contribute as much as about half of new electricity generation by 2020.