China Built the Equivalent of 40 Minnesota Coal Plants in 2020

China constructed an enormous amount of coal-fired electricity capacity in 2020, according to new international research. In total, China added 38,400 megawatts (MW) worth of new facilities, the equivalent of 40 Minnesota coal plants, specifically the Boswell Energy Center, which serves as the backbone to the Iron Range’s mines and paper mills.

These new coal plants will emit more carbon dioxide than the entire state of Minnesota, and it also shows that China’s pledge to be carbon neutral before 2060 was cheap theater for progressives who want to shut down our reliable, affordable Minnesota coal plants. Actions speak louder than words.

Wipe Out

These freshly-minted coal plants are going to produce a lot of carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, even if we assume that these are advanced ultra-supercritical coal plants (AUSC), the most efficient coal plants in the world, they’ll still create a bigger carbon footprint than all Minnesota coal plants — and all other energy sources!

New coal plants use technologies that increase their fuel efficiencies. A new AUSC coal plant can produce a megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity while emitting 0.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide. In contrast, Minnesota coal plants use older technology and emit about 1.1 metric tons per MWh of electricity produced.

But even if we assume all of the new coal plants in China are AUSC, the plants built in 2020 would generate 188 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, assuming the plants are operating at only 80 percent of their potential capacity. This means the coal capacity that China added in 2020, alone, would emit 46 million tons (or 29 percent) more carbon dioxide than the entire state of Minnesota did in 2018, according to data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

One factor that is often lost in the conversation about reducing emissions is the fact that greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere, which means the warming impact affects everyone the same. As a result, there is no climate heaven where good little boys and girls who have reduced their carbon footprint are spared the impacts of future global temperatures.

Unfortunately, many liberal lawmakers seem to believe that reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota will act as blood above the door on Passover, putting Minnesota on the Nice List, and making sure there is still ice on that lake in January. There is zero scientific evidence for this belief.

To the Left, Words Matter More Than Actions

Gov. Tim Walz recently announced that his administration wants to mandate that 100 percent of Minnesota’s electricity come from wind, solar, and battery storage by 2040, and in September, Representative Jamie Long Tweeted that China’s declaration to be carbon neutral by 2060 meant the  “whole ‘we can’t act until China’ excuse is gone.”

But these sentiments ignore the fact that these policies are impossibly expensive and imply that China’s words matter more than their actions. This could not be further from the truth, especially when we consider that China has cheated on other environmental initiatives, and they currently enslave millions of Muslim Uighurs, some of whom are forced to build solar panels.

The Science Shows China Cheats

A study in the scientific journal Nature found that China is violating the Montreal Protocol and continues to produce chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.  The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987. If China won’t comply with the Montreal Protocol, why would we believe them when they say they’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future? This cheerleading of China is especially curious given that China lied about its coal use leading up to the Paris Climate Accord.

The New York Times notes:

“China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data.

The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

China is not trustworthy when it comes to pledges to reduce emissions. This should be blindingly obvious to everyone. The idea that China will sacrifice its own access to affordable, reliable electricity is even less credible when we consider the country is using slaves to manufacture solar panels in factories powered by coal.

Slavery, Solar Panels, and Coal-Fired Power Plants

Another piece by the New York Times details how China enslaves ethnic minorities and forces them to produce solar panels in factories powered by coal.

The Global Slavery Index estimates 3.8 million people are currently enslaved in China and the BBC recently released a report detailing how women in China’s “re-education” camps for Uighurs have been systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured.

These acts are disgusting, and it is unbelievable that anyone can take anything the Chinese regime says at face value. China will lie and cheat to get whatever it wants and we would be fools to shut down our own reliable, affordable coal plants before the end of their useful lifetimes because of a statement made by the Chinese government. Doing so would drive up electricity prices in Minnesota and make it harder for our own companies to compete with Chinese firms. It is the definition of putting Minnesota last.


China built enough coal-fired power capacity in 2020 to exceed the emissions of not just all Minnesota coal plants, but the entire state. The country has consistently lied and cheated about its adherence to international environmental initiatives, and it has enslaved, sexually abused, and tortured millions of its own people.