China has built more than 648 new Coal fired electricity plants,” reads an Oct. 27 Facebook post. The post was shared more than 400 times in ten days. But the claim is false.
The claim is that China has built 648 new coal fired plants. As world leaders conclude a landmark climate change summit, misinformation about greenhouse gas emissions is spreading on social media.
“Green Energy fun fact: China has built more than 648 new Coal fired electricity plants,” reads an Oct. 27 Facebook post.
The post was shared more than 400 times in ten days.
But the claim is false. China is one of the global leaders in developing and using coal power plants. However, this post misstates findings from a recent study, which detailed plants funded by Chinese investors but located in other countries. The 648 tally also included power plants using a variety of fuels – only a small portion use coal.
China has not built 648 power plants in any recent timespan. Post misstates findings of recent study on overseas Chinese power capacity
The social media user confirmed that a recent report from Boston University was part of the basis for the post.
The report, called “Understanding China’s Global Power: 2022 Update,” found that Chinese banks and companies financed a total of 648 power plants overseas. But the claim doesn’t accurately reflect what the research found, according to Cecilia Springer, one of the report’s authors.
“If this post is indeed drawing from our database, it is a completely incorrect characterization of our data,” Springer told in an email. “Not all power plants in our database are coal plants. We track other energy technologies, including wind, solar, hydropower.”
According to Springer, only 10% of the power-generating plants within the Boston University database are coal-powered.
And not all of the power plants mentioned in the report can be considered “new” or functional, Springer said.
“The 648 power plants tracked by our database are from all time, and entered into operation between 2000 and 2022,” Springer said. “We also track plants that are under construction or planning.”
Ninety-six overseas coal plants financed by China have gone online in the last five years, and 344 total since 2010, said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead researcher at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
China a world leader in using coal power Though this post errs on the specifics, China leads the world in use of coal for electricity generation, experts say.
More than half of the capacity of newly commissioned coal-fired power plants installed around the world in 2021 came from China, according to Flora Champenois, a research analyst at Global Energy Monitor.
The post does not indicate the time frame it is referencing, or if it is referencing plants built domestically or overseas. But the numbers don’t add up in any case.
“In 2021, China commissioned… 34 coal power plants, making up more than half of global coal capacity additions that year,” Champenois told USA TODAY in an email. “In the first half of 2022, China commissioned… 11 coal power plants.”
Champenois said that over the past five years, China has commissioned 226 coal power plants within its own borders.
“The country continues to be the glaring exception to the ongoing global decline in coal plant development,” Champenois said.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jingping announced that China would quit building and financing overseas coal power plants.
Originally published at USA Today