Beyond 2014, China's coal consumption may see a new peak Viewpoint 2021-07-19 09:55:49

There would likely be a new peak if China's coal consumption continues to grow this year, said BP's chief Economist Spencer Dale at a media interview for Statistical Review of World Energy 2021 on July 16.

China's coal consumption has increased four consecutive years by 2020. According to the Review, China's coal consumption in 2020 was 82.27 EJ, an increase of 0.3% year on year; coal imports grew by more than 6.6 EJ, the highest level since 2014. (1 EJ=10 trillion J)

China's coal consumption peaked in 2014 at 82.49 EJ, the review said. Since then, coal consumption has hovered at 80-81.79 EJ.

But now the situation has been reversed. Last year, China's coal consumption exceeded 82 EJ, and if it continues to grow in 2021, it will surpass the 2014 peak.

The peak of China's coal production, on the other hand, occurred in 2013. If coal production continues to grow in 2021, it could also exceed the 2013 peak.

China's raw coal production in 2014 was 3.87 billion tonnes, down 2.5% year on year, making it the first decline since the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released its annual data in 1998. This extrapolates to an adjusted raw coal production figure of 3.969 billion tonnes in 2013.

Thereafter, raw coal production continued to decline in 2015-2016, but has started to grow again since 2017.

China's domestic raw coal production was 3.75 billion, 3.41 billion, 3.52 billion, 3.68 billion, 3.85 billion and 3.9 billion tonnes, respectively, in 2015-2020, the NBS data showed.

However, the proportion of coal consumption in China's primary energy has shown a continuous downward trend since 2014.

The NBS data showed the proportion of domestic coal in primary energy consumption was below 60% for the first time in 2018, and further fell to 56.8% in 2020, down 0.9 percentage points from the previous year.

The share remained high, said Spencer Dale, which needs to fall faster. This is a big challenge for China, but it is already on the right path.

Driven by a favorable economic recovery post the epidemic, China's primary energy demand grew by 2.1% in 2020, one of the few countries with positive growth in the world, said the Review.

The Review showed that China's renewable energy consumption increases by 15% year on year in 2020, accounting for 25% of global renewable energy demand and 36% of global renewable energy consumption growth, respectively.

Over the same period, China's nuclear power generation increased by 4.7%, in contrast to a global decline of 3.7%. And China's solar power grew 15.8%, wind power 14% and hydropower 3.2%.

"The rapid growth of wind and solar energy in China has made a huge contribution to the growth of renewable energy worldwide," Dale said.

China's fossil fuel production continued to grow slowly last year, the Review showed. Oil production grew by 1.7% and natural gas by 9%. During the same period, China's oil import dependence stabilized at 73%, while the share of natural gas imports fell to 41%.

In 2020, China's carbon emissions continue to grow for the fourth consecutive year, by 0.6%, increasing its share of total global carbon emissions to 31%; however, carbon emissions intensity decreases by 1%.

(Writing by Alex Guo  Editing by Tammy Yang)
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