Climate Change Research ›› 2021, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (1): 36-44.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2020.184

• Mitigation Pathways and Policies in China with the Paris Agreement Targets • Previous Articles     Next Articles

China’s coal power sector stranded assets under the 2℃ global carbon constraint

ZHANG Wei-Rong1, YUAN Jia-Hai1,2()   

  1. 1 North China Electric Power University of Economics and Management, Beijing 102206, China
    2 Beijing Key Laboratory of New Energy and Low-Carbon Development, Beijing 102206, China
  • Received:2020-08-21 Revised:2020-11-30 Online:2021-01-30 Published:2021-02-04
  • Contact: YUAN Jia-Hai


As the largest coal power provider in the world, China needs to give more consideration to assess the stranded coal-fired assets, which caused by meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals of capping global warming rise to 2℃ by the end of the 21st century. With an integrated carbon lock-in curves (CLICs) approach, China’s stranded coal power assets were identified under different coal power capacity expansion scenarios (no additional, 200, 300 and 400 GW new coal power units). From a “top-down” perspective, the carbon emission allowances were estimated for China’s coal power sector under 2℃ climate target. From a “bottom-up” perspective, the cumulative carbon emissions of coal power units were calculated, based on the high-precision data of coal power unit in China. Then “interaction up and down” to screen out stranded coal power units. Stranded value of coal power was estimated based upon a cash flow algorithm, with sensitivity analysis on key factors. The counterintuitive finding is, if stabilizing coal power capacity during 2020-2030, China will only incur a sizeable yet acceptable stranded loss around CNY 382 billion, however, continued increase of another 200-400 GW coal power would significantly enlarge the loss to 3.7-8.2 times. Therefore, during the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan period, in order to avoid missing the best time to reduce CO2 emissions, it is necessary to establish peak coal power capacity and strictly control new coal power plant.

Key words: 2℃ climate target, Carbon lock-in curves, Coal power plants, Stranded assets

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