One new Chinese coal plant is almost bigger than the entire Minnesota coal fleet
China is currently building an enormous 4,000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in the northwestern region of Inner Mongolia. For context, this single coal plant is almost larger than the entire Minnesota coal fleet (4,147 MW).
Chinese officials claim the country will be “carbon-neutral” by 2060, but the government’s actions suggest otherwise. According to Carbon Brief, China is currently operating, building, or planning to build 1.2 million MW of coal-fired power plants, more than 288 timesthe installed capacity of Minnesota.
China’s coal construction has important implications for energy policy in Minnesota. In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, wind and solar special interest groups want to shut down our coal plants years before the end of their useful lives.
This is bad energy policy. Shutting down our coal facilities will only make our electricity less reliable and more expensive, while having no measurable impact on future global temperatures.
Wind and solar advocacy groups appear to think that energy policy is subservient to climate policy. It is not. America — and Minnesota — need reliable energy first, affordable energy second, and carbon-free energy third. Unfortunately, these advocacy groups put carbon-free energy first, affordable energy second, and reliability last. This is a recipe for skyrocketing prices and blackouts.
The Chinese government understands this, which is why they are re-upping their commitment to coal and new nuclear power plants. These reliable, affordable, and fuel-secure power plants are the essential backbone of reliable power grids, and we shut them down or prevent their construction at our own peril.
Minnesota should maintain its existing coal and nuclear plants for as long as they are economical to run. As these assets near the end of their natural useful lives, we can have a conversation about the best technologies to replace them.