China's economic miracle is under severe threat from up to 30 GW in power shortages — that's more than twice the output of the Three Gorges Dam. Coal plants are shutting down as the cost of fuel outpaces the government-controlled price of electricity. Domestic shortages have driven the price of fuel up 75 percent since 2007, but the Chinese government limits electricity price increases to only 15 percent.

"Many coal plants have shut down their generators because the more they produce, the bigger the losses they will suffer," Li Chaolin, a coal and energy industry analyst at Anbound Group told the Global Times.

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The government's solution is renewables: the country has at least 75 GW of them on the books for future construction, in addition to more than 50 nuclear power plants.

What we see playing out in China is a scenario that will be repeated across the globe: Dwindling supplies of fossil fuels drive up their cost, forcing a move to renewables. The danger is that renewables become a crutch that props up the existing economic system just long enough for it to devour all the sequestered carbon we have left. No one said the 21st century would be boring.

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