coalpowerplant.jpgChina's coal consumption for generating electricity soared nearly 18% in the first half of this year from a year ago despite rising concern about pollution and the government's much-vaunted desire to promote cleaner energy sources.

Chinese utilities burned a total of 591m tons of coal in the first half of this year, according to the China Electricity Council.

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 growing concern in China and elsewhere 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.

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