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The Forum > Article Comments > Why China's insatiable appetite for coal has likely peaked > Comments

Why China's insatiable appetite for coal has likely peaked : Comments

By Nicholas Cunningham, published 19/9/2014

A recent report from Greenpeace found that China's coal consumption declined in the first half of this year and new Chinese government data suggests that the country's coal imports have dropped.

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Rather than a steep protracted decline it's possible Chinese emissions may plateau for say 20 years. Coal remains the cheapest 24/7 power source so there must be some sacrifice in using more costly or fickle power sources. Apart from domestic pollution China may also have noted threats from the West (eg Prof Helm of Oxford) to carbon tax imports of goods made in China.

Let's hope Chinese emission don't go from around 10 billions of CO2 a year to say 7 billion and get stuck there for decades. Of course if their per capita emissions were as bad as Australians some might say they were entitled to 1.3 bn X 20t = 26 bn tonnes. We should cut our own emissions by nontrivial amounts to reinforce the global effort.
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 19 September 2014 8:38:59 AM
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Below are links to some basic information:-
http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/

http://www.vox.com/2014/6/19/5821250/these-5-charts-show-why-the-world-is-still-failing-on-climate-change

http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/coal/5-year/

While the increase in coal consumption has slowed in China world wide production is still up on last year by 0.4%. I think it likely that other countries such as India will take up the slack. As explained in the second link above, globally coal is still keeping pace with increased electricity demand, despite the rapid expansion of wind and solar power. The only proviso I would make is that coal consumption may fall if economic conditions suddenly deteriorate. Nor do I see any real prospect of a cut back in coal use, unless governments introduce serious policies to limit its use.

By the way I am convinced that hydro is cheaper than coal as power source. Hydro is also more flexible because it can follow the peeks and troughs of demand, and it is potentially more profitable. Unfortunately there just is not enough hydro power available to substitute for coal.
Posted by warmair, Friday, 19 September 2014 11:23:30 AM
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Don't be silly warmair, china & India aren't stupid enough to ruin their economies by seriously adopting wind or solar power. Yes China will talk about it, but only to stir up western greenies, hoping their noise will keep the west doing these stupid things.

We will continue selling coal to China, but we may have to make our mines cheaper to build & operate, & will definitely have to make our ports much cheaper to build & operate.

Allowing greenie interference to add billions to everything we do, just to buy a few votes will stop, once the average member of the population feels the pinch of those costs. It is just a matter of time.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 19 September 2014 1:19:24 PM
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Yes, and given huge Chinese gas reserves, far bigger than the U.S. It's only a question of time, before our coal sales there, dry almost right up!
And it's London to a brick our LNG sales also dry up, and during the term of the current Federal Government!?
We would be better served to take this on board, and start now today, with urgent alacrity, to set aside some of our own energy resources for ourselves, our industry and our long term future.
And not just because of things happening in just China, but the M.E., and Ukraine!
Simply sitting on our hands, as is the coalition's usual response to almost any commercial changes, is simply not an option, and a complete waste of any current advantage!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Friday, 19 September 2014 1:23:45 PM
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The inference I get form the article is that the use of coal will decline. The only circumstance I can see this happening is by direct government intervention. The current situation is that coal production is being ramped up faster than the rate of consumption, which not surprisingly is pushing down the price of coal; this in turn is likely to lead to an increase in consumption, and a weeding out of the least competitive mines.

The only other alternative is that a technology will be developed that is dramatically cheaper than coal power, at present there are several alternatives that are competitive with coal power, but none which is likely to see the scraping most of the existing coal plants and replacing them.

I am satisfied that the continued use of coal at current rates will lead to very serious climate problems. I canít help seeing a parallel between the people who refuse to accept the science of climate change, and the villagers in Guinean who refuse to accept that ebola is real and not just some western conspiracy.

http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-attack-ebola-guinea-outreach-20140918-story.html
Posted by warmair, Saturday, 20 September 2014 10:23:57 AM
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