The report says China’s increasing population, urbanization and industrialization will push electricity demand upwards.
However, it contrasts this with increasingly harsher environmental policies that it expects will have greater sway in the future.
Coal-fired power plants form more than half China’s installed capacity.
It also has a large number of coal-fired power plants planned for construction between 2012 and 2020.
Before 2009 China was a net exporter of coal but became a net importer as demand climbed.
China independently shut down old and inefficient plants with a combined capacity of 70 gigawatts between 2006 and 2010.
Its 12th five-year plan – 2011-15 – has it aiming to produce 11% of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2015, increasing to 15% by 2020.
The plan imposes a cap on coal power generation in order to reduce environmental damage and wind power capacity is anticipated to increase threefold as a result.
China follows the US with the second largest share of global thermal installed capacity. It has a 21.4% share.
In 2011 China’s total thermal installed capacity amounted to 765GW – of which 706GW came from coal-fired plants.
During the forecast period, coal-fired plants are expected to drive thermal installed capacity, which is expected to reach 1074GW by 2020, increasing at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.8%.
Total thermal capacity is expected to increase at the same CAGR and reach 1200GW in 2020.