The Oil Drum and discuss China’s insatiable appetite for coal.  Between 2002 and 2010 China doubled its consumption of coal, from 850 Mtoe (million tonnes oil equivalent) to 1713.5 Mtoe.  At the same time, world coal production is dominated by China. See the charts below.

Coal in China is mainly used for base-load electricity generation and is an essential input in the iron and steel industry.



In 2010, China accounted for almost half of world coal production and consumption: 45 percent of the world coal production (by volume) and 48 percent of the world coal consumption (by energy content).   The following chart from The Oil Drum compares the output of the five largest coal producing countries over the last 30 years and clearly illustrates China’s production dominance.  China’s coal production is projected to peak in 2027 with a peak production level of 5.1 billion tons.


                                                      Source:  The Oil Drum


It is this increasing use of coal by China and its resulting CO2 emissions that makes it difficult for the rest of the world to introduce environmental policies that are able to reduce overall global CO2 emissions.

In assessing the impact of Chinese coal demand on the world Dr. Minqi Li observes:

In 2010, China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest energy consumer. China now accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s energy consumption and about 25 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. China’s future development will have a major impact on the global economic, social, political, and ecological trajectories in the 21st century.

Tags: , , , ,