The role of national carbon pricing in phasing out China's coal power

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 25 June 2021
Mo J., Zhang W., Tu Q., Yuan J., Duan H., Fan Y. et al.
As the country with the world's largest coal power capacity, China is launching a national carbon market. How the carbon pricing may contribute to phasing out China's coal power is a great concern. We collect full-sample data set of China's 4540 operating coal plant units and develop a stochastic Monte-Carlo financial model to assess the financial sustainability of the plant operation. Although China's coal plants have long residual technical lifetime, their operations are close to the break-even state. Even with low carbon price of 50 CNY/tCO2 growing at 4%/y and the permits being fully auctioned, the average residual lifetime of all the plants will be reduced by 5.43 years, and the cumulative CO2 emission from 2020 to 2050 will be reduced by 22.73 billion ton. The spatial disparity in the carbon pricing effect is significant, and the western regions are more vulnerable to the carbon pricing risk than the eastern regions.