China, the world’s largest coal consumer, has decided to halt new coal mines approval for the next three years while it continues cutting output at existing operations, in a new effort to shrink both oversupply and a worsening pollution crisis.
As part of the tough rules implemented by the national energy regulator, Beijing will shut more than 1,000 coal mines next year, taking out 60 million metric tons of unneeded capacity, state-run agency Xinhua News reported.
China’s chronic air pollution generally gets worse in winter, when power consumption —much of it fuelled by coal — rises along with demand for heating. Earlier this month, capital Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for pollution. Poisonous air quality prompted the government to close schools, force motorists off the road and shut down factories for more than 72 hours.
The government has also readjusted its targeted energy mix for 2016. Under the new blueprint, non-fossil fuels will make up 13.2% of the country’s energy, an increase from 12% this year. The ratio of natural gas will also increase to 6.2% from 6% while coal usage will be reduced to 62.6% from around 64.4% this year.
For the next five years, the Chinese government also aims to add over 20 million kilowatts of installed wind power and more than 15 million kilowatts of installed photovoltaic power.