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Title: Outlook and Challenges for Chinese Coal

Abstract

China has been, is, and will continue to be a coal-powered economy. The rapid growth of coal demand since 2001 has created deepening strains and bottlenecks that raise questions about supply security. Although China's coal is 'plentiful,' published academic and policy analyses indicate that peak production will likely occur between 2016 and 2029. Given the current economic growth trajectory, domestic production constraints will lead to a coal gap that is not likely to be filled with imports. Urbanization, heavy industry growth, and increasing per-capita consumption are the primary drivers of rising coal usage. In 2006, the power sector, iron and steel, and cement accounted for 71% of coal consumption. Power generation is becoming more efficient, but even extensive roll-out of the highest efficiency units could save only 14% of projected 2025 coal demand. If China follows Japan, steel production would peak by 2015; cement is likely to follow a similar trajectory. A fourth wedge of future coal consumption is likely to come from the burgeoning coal-liquefaction and chemicals industries. New demand from coal-to-liquids and coal-to-chemicals may add 450 million tonnes of coal demand by 2025. Efficient growth among these drivers indicates that China's annual coal demand will reach 4.2 tomore » 4.7 billion tonnes by 2025. Central government support for nuclear and renewable energy has not been able to reduce China's growing dependence on coal for primary energy. Few substitution options exist: offsetting one year of recent coal demand growth would require over 107 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 48 GW of nuclear, or 86 GW of hydropower capacity. While these alternatives will continue to grow, the scale of development using existing technologies will be insufficient to substitute significant coal demand before 2025. The central role of heavy industry in GDP growth and the difficulty of substituting other fuels suggest that coal consumption is inextricably entwined with China's economy in its current mode of growth. Ongoing dependence on coal reduces China's ability to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions growth. If coal demand remains on its current growth path, carbon dioxide emissions from coal combustion alone would exceed total US energy-related carbon emissions by 2010. Broadening awareness of the environmental costs of coal mining, transport, and combustion is raising the pressure on Chinese policy makers to find alternative energy sources. Within China's coal-dominated energy system, domestic transportation has emerged as the largest bottleneck for coal industry growth and is likely to remain a constraint to further expansion. China is short of high-quality reserves, but is producing its best coal first. Declining quality will further strain production and transport. Transporting coal to users has overloaded the train system and dramatically increased truck use, raising transport oil demand. Growing international imports have helped to offset domestic transport bottlenecks. In the long term, import demand is likely to exceed 200 mt by 2025, significantly impacting regional markets. The looming coal gap threatens to derail China's growth path, possibly undermining political, economic, and social stability. High coal prices and domestic shortages will have regional and global effects. Regarding China's role as a global manufacturing center, a domestic coal gap will increase prices and constrain growth. Within the Asia-Pacific region, China's coal gap is likely to bring about increased competition with other coal-importing countries including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and India. As with petroleum, China may respond with a government-supported 'going-out' strategy of resource acquisition and vertical integration. Given its population and growing resource constraints, China may favor energy security, competitiveness, and local environmental protection over global climate change mitigation. The possibility of a large coal gap suggests that Chinese and international policy makers should maximize institutional and financial support to moderate demand and improve energy efficiency.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Environmental Energy Technologies Division
OSTI Identifier:
1050632
Report Number(s):
LBNL-4772E
TRN: US201218%%1051
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
01 COAL, LIGNITE, AND PEAT; 02 PETROLEUM; 03 NATURAL GAS; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; CARBON; CARBON DIOXIDE; CEMENTS; CHINA; CLIMATIC CHANGE; COAL; COAL INDUSTRY; COAL LIQUEFACTION; COAL MINING; COMBUSTION; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; EFFICIENCY; ENERGY EFFICIENCY; ENERGY SECURITY; ENERGY SOURCES; ENERGY SYSTEMS; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; MANUFACTURING; MITIGATION; NATURAL GAS; PETROLEUM; POWER GENERATION; PRICES; SECURITY; SHORTAGES; STABILITY; STEELS; STRAINS; TRANSPORT; VERTICAL INTEGRATION

Citation Formats

Aden, Nathaniel T, Fridley, David G, and Zheng, Nina. Outlook and Challenges for Chinese Coal. United States: N. p., 2008. Web. doi:10.2172/1050632.
Aden, Nathaniel T, Fridley, David G, & Zheng, Nina. Outlook and Challenges for Chinese Coal. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1050632
Aden, Nathaniel T, Fridley, David G, and Zheng, Nina. Fri . "Outlook and Challenges for Chinese Coal". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1050632. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1050632.
@article{osti_1050632,
title = {Outlook and Challenges for Chinese Coal},
author = {Aden, Nathaniel T and Fridley, David G and Zheng, Nina},
abstractNote = {China has been, is, and will continue to be a coal-powered economy. The rapid growth of coal demand since 2001 has created deepening strains and bottlenecks that raise questions about supply security. Although China's coal is 'plentiful,' published academic and policy analyses indicate that peak production will likely occur between 2016 and 2029. Given the current economic growth trajectory, domestic production constraints will lead to a coal gap that is not likely to be filled with imports. Urbanization, heavy industry growth, and increasing per-capita consumption are the primary drivers of rising coal usage. In 2006, the power sector, iron and steel, and cement accounted for 71% of coal consumption. Power generation is becoming more efficient, but even extensive roll-out of the highest efficiency units could save only 14% of projected 2025 coal demand. If China follows Japan, steel production would peak by 2015; cement is likely to follow a similar trajectory. A fourth wedge of future coal consumption is likely to come from the burgeoning coal-liquefaction and chemicals industries. New demand from coal-to-liquids and coal-to-chemicals may add 450 million tonnes of coal demand by 2025. Efficient growth among these drivers indicates that China's annual coal demand will reach 4.2 to 4.7 billion tonnes by 2025. Central government support for nuclear and renewable energy has not been able to reduce China's growing dependence on coal for primary energy. Few substitution options exist: offsetting one year of recent coal demand growth would require over 107 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 48 GW of nuclear, or 86 GW of hydropower capacity. While these alternatives will continue to grow, the scale of development using existing technologies will be insufficient to substitute significant coal demand before 2025. The central role of heavy industry in GDP growth and the difficulty of substituting other fuels suggest that coal consumption is inextricably entwined with China's economy in its current mode of growth. Ongoing dependence on coal reduces China's ability to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions growth. If coal demand remains on its current growth path, carbon dioxide emissions from coal combustion alone would exceed total US energy-related carbon emissions by 2010. Broadening awareness of the environmental costs of coal mining, transport, and combustion is raising the pressure on Chinese policy makers to find alternative energy sources. Within China's coal-dominated energy system, domestic transportation has emerged as the largest bottleneck for coal industry growth and is likely to remain a constraint to further expansion. China is short of high-quality reserves, but is producing its best coal first. Declining quality will further strain production and transport. Transporting coal to users has overloaded the train system and dramatically increased truck use, raising transport oil demand. Growing international imports have helped to offset domestic transport bottlenecks. In the long term, import demand is likely to exceed 200 mt by 2025, significantly impacting regional markets. The looming coal gap threatens to derail China's growth path, possibly undermining political, economic, and social stability. High coal prices and domestic shortages will have regional and global effects. Regarding China's role as a global manufacturing center, a domestic coal gap will increase prices and constrain growth. Within the Asia-Pacific region, China's coal gap is likely to bring about increased competition with other coal-importing countries including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and India. As with petroleum, China may respond with a government-supported 'going-out' strategy of resource acquisition and vertical integration. Given its population and growing resource constraints, China may favor energy security, competitiveness, and local environmental protection over global climate change mitigation. The possibility of a large coal gap suggests that Chinese and international policy makers should maximize institutional and financial support to moderate demand and improve energy efficiency.},
doi = {10.2172/1050632},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1050632}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2008},
month = {6}
}