BEIJING (AP) - Coal consumption by China's power companies soared nearly 18 percent in the first half of this year from a year ago, a state news agency said Wednesday, despite rising concern about pollution and efforts to promote cleaner energy sources.
Chinese utilities burned a total of 591 million tons of coal in the January-June period, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing figures from the official power industry association, the China Electricity Council.
China's coal consumption has soared in recent years to meet surging power demand amid an economic boom. The country is building dozens of new coal-fired power plants every year, despite government warnings about environmental damage from pollution.
The government has been pushing power companies to switch to cleaner power sources such as natural gas. But demand is rising so fast that China is expected to rely on its dirty, but abundant, coal reserves for most of its power in coming years.