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Aggressive state backing has made China a leader in solar panel manufacturing.   © Reuters
The Big Story

China's renewable energy surges after state backing

Reliance on coal remains huge but is set to decline

ERI SUGIURA and AKANE OKUTSU, Nikkei staff writers | China

TOKYO -- China's remarkable four-decade long economic expansion has been fueled in large part by coal. By 2016, the country was responsible for nearly half of the world's total coal consumption, mainly to fire its power plants. But choking air pollution, along with China's commitments under the Paris Agreement on global warming, are pushing the country down a greener path.

China produced 3.2 billion tons of coal in 2016, or 44% of the world's total, according to the International Energy Agency, and it was also the top importer of coal. In 2016, coal plant capacity in China reached 942 gigawatts, up 42 GW from the previous year, according to China Electricity Council. The upshot: China accounted for 30% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions in 2016.

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