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China Seen Investing Too Much in Power Plants That Burn Coal

  • Coal plant construction accelerates as power demand eases
  • Most generators are operating at less than half capacity
The Shanghai Waigaoqiao coal power plant in Shanghai.

The Shanghai Waigaoqiao coal power plant in Shanghai.

Photographer: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
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China may be investing too much in coal power, with construction of new plants accelerating at the same time that demand growth for electricity is slowing, the International Energy Agency said.

The world’s biggest investor in fossil-fuel generation started more than 70 gigawatts of new coal projects last year and had 200 gigawatts under construction at the end of April, the Paris-based institution said in a report published Wednesday. At the same time, most plants are sitting idle more than half the time, and low-carbon sources of electricity including nuclear and renewables are covering additional demand.