China closes its coal power projects, loses billions

Beijing, China: China has banned its coal power projects in many countries which are part of Belt and Road initiative. The decision has resulted in loss of billions of dollars for China.

The HK Post said that this is due to the growing opposition from the people in BRI countries for ineffective and unprofessional project implementation.

China is also facing opposition from people and environmental activists in BRI countries. In 2020, over a score of NGOs came together in Turkey to protest Chinese banks investing in a coal-fired power plant in their country.

Unprecedented protests against Chinese funding in Kenya led to the mothballing of the proposed Lamu plant. The iCBC was unable to deliver even a penny of the USD 1.2 billion funding.

In Egypt, a 6.6 GW plant was cancelled last year. Bangladesh is requesting the Chinese investors to put money into renewable energy sources instead of coal-based plants, reported The HK Post.

While Chinese money flows like water in BRI countries, not many projects actually take off. The report points out that “more than USD 65 billion of Chinese-backed coal-fired power plants have been either shelved, mothballed or cancelled since 2014, with more projects seeing delays in construction,” reported The HK Post.

Of the 52 Chinese-backed coal-fired power projects announced since 2014, only one has gone into operation — the 1.3 GW Payra Patuakhali coal power station in Kalapara, Bangladesh, in 2020.

“At the same time, 25 of the projects announced since 2014 had been shelved and eight ended up cancelled,” said the Green Belt and Road Initiative Center (GBRIC) report.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the United Nations General Assembly a few days ago promising that his country will not build any new coal-fired power projects abroad.

The investments had already begun to shrink because of internal opposition within the BRI countries. In 2020, according to official reports, no new Chinese-backed coal-fired power plant was announced at all.

Rather, the situation is that BRI countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have announced to phase out new coal investments, reported The HK Post.

The plight of BRI countries is beginning to unravel. Many power plants have not taken off despite Chinese funding. They have either been written off or cancelled or shelved. The list of such includes Zimbabwe, Russia, Cambodia, Egypt, Botswana, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, Romania, Tanzania, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Oman, Malawi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mozambique, Sudan, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Greece, Pakistan, reported The HK Post.

Zimbabwe leads this list. It had proudly announced several big projects with Chinese funding worth USD15.4 billion, but all of them got shelved or cancelled in the last few years. Even in Russia, projects worth USD 12.5 billion were shelved. In Cambodia projects worth USD 10 billion never saw the light of the day. 

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