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Energy Blog Concern Grows Over China’s Coal Consumption

Concern Grows Over China’s Coal Consumption

Chris Hurcombe
by Chris Hurcombe February 5, 2013
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Despite their recently-confirmed standing as the number-one investors in eco-friendly commercial energy, new figures released this week show China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined.

Whilst support from Beijing for clean energy investment – including a large-scale, economically viable solar panel production – and increased awareness over the still-growing air pollution problems that plague the country’s most-populous cities, a recent audit published by Time magazine has shown frightening growth in China’s use of fossil fuels.

China’s Coal Consumption Concerns

Global coal consumption (without including China) has somewhat-stabilised over the last 5 years, even including a small pre-recession dip in usage in 2008. However, since the turn of the millennium, China’s consumption has more than doubled – growing from 1.5bn tonnes in 2000 to over 3.8bn at the end 2012.

Accounting for 20% of greenhouse gases, many nations are trying to kick their coal habit, but the temptation is growing as economic troubles press on. The US claimed that ‘the battle on coal was being won’ after seeing prices fall even further in 2012, but those cheap prices are only driving China to consume more to power it’s commercial electricity and business energy needs.

The same report – derived from figures from the International Energy Agency – also earmarks India as another market who will ramp up their coal consumption over the coming years. A worst-case scenario predicts that India could even catch up to China in it’s level of coal consumption and importation by 2017.

Is there any easy way to convince these hugely-populated markets to resist the allure of cheap business energy that coal provides? Or can the rest of the world’s green business energy compensate for the growing usage of China and India?