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China Seeks to Dent Coal Addiction With Mega Power Complexes

  • The nation’s strategy is to support renewables demand
  • Clean energy’s biggest challenge is its periodic nature
China Emissions

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

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Imagine a power plant built next to a coal mine but also operating wind turbines and solar panels. The facility hosts batteries to store electricity when supply is in excess. The main source of power could flip from the fossil fuel to clean energy, depending on weather and price.

Spending billions of dollars to integrate power generation in this kind of mega-complex is now up for discussion in China, the world’s largest consumer of coal and its biggest promoter of renewables. While housing the two in the same facility creates obvious efficiencies, there’s a second purpose that has the potential to loosen the dirtiest fossil fuel’s choke-hold on China’s energy generation -- like a cuckoo snuggling up in another bird’s nest.