财新传媒 财新传媒

阅读:0
听报道
The last boom cycle for the domestic coal industry started in 2003. From 2003 to 2012, the demand for coal soared steadily, and the annual production volume rose from 1.55 billion tons at the beginning of the cycle to 3.95 billion tons, with an average annual increase of 10 percent. Demand rose by 9.8 percent in 2011, but after that it started to fall. In 2015, demand for coal dropped by 4.0 percent in 2015. In sync with this situation was the large-scale overcapacity in the sector, a sharp drop in coal prices, and large losses made by coal-producing enterprises. 

Several factors led to the fall in coal consumption, such as the overall macroeconomic slowdown, increasingly firm environmental protection measures, and the country's enhancement of energy efficiency. Considering China's resource mix of "rich in coal while lacking in oil and gas," it is unavoidable to adopt a coal-dominated energy structure development plan. During the period of rapid economic growth, increasing energy demand prompted increasing utilization of coal in China, and the percentage that coal occupies in total energy consumption once reached 70 percent. However, as China's economic growth decelerated, the increase in energy demand also slowed. Supply in the energy market is now relatively abundant, and clean energy is increasingly used as a substitute for coal. The fundamental conditions for decreasing the role played by coal in the nation's energy structure have matured. An optimistic estimate would be that the percentage that coal consumption occupies in total energy consumption on average drops 1 percent per year from now on till 2030, or from 64.5 percent in 2015 to 50 percent in 2030.

But energy structure adjustment is not an easy thing to achieve. The rate at which it can be carried out hinges to a large extent on the rate at which energy demand grows. And in China, energy structure adjustment mainly refers to using clean energy to substitute coal. In 2015, coal accounted for 64.5 percent of total energy consumption, oil 17.6 percent, natural gas 6 percent, hydropower 8.5 percent, nuclear power 1.4 percent, wind power 1.6 percent, and solar power 0.5 percent. Considering China's resources and national energy security, among these options, the percentage of oil and hydropower is likely to remain steady for a long time. The truly changing constituents are the reduction of coal consumption and the rise of relatively clean natural gas as well as nuclear power, wind power, and solar power. 

According to the Energy Development Strategic Action Plan (2014-20) published by the Chinese government, natural gas will account for over 10 percent of total energy consumption by 2020. Meanwhile, the industrial system for renewable energy has grown in scale, and production costs will drop as the increasing production scale and technology advance in wind power and solar power are realized. China has been leading the growth of wind power and solar power during the past few years, and in 2015 it was again the country with the largest investment in clean energy worldwide. For China at present, natural gas, nuclear power, wind power, and solar power can all be counted as clean energy, and they account for a total of 9.5 percent of energy consumption now. To put it in a simple way, China's energy structure adjustment will be a tug-of-war between coal and clean energy. 

If energy demand declines again this year, reducing coal use will be relatively easy. In 2015, the proportion of coal in total energy consumption dropped to 64.5 percent from nearly 66 percent in 2014. Based on the current share of clean energy, with a zero percent increase in energy demand, 1 percent of coal consumption could be substituted by about a 10 percent increase in clean energy. If the average growth rate is 1 percent, then it will require about a 20 percent average increase of clean energy production to replace 1 percent of coal consumption. 

Therefore, coal substitution may not be as easy as has been expected. Large-scale replacement of coal consumption is going to be costly, and coal will remain the most important energy product in China for a long time.

来源:《Global Times》
话题:



0

推荐

林伯强

林伯强

209篇文章 1次访问 1年前更新

美国加利福尼亚大学经济学博士(Santa Barbara)。现任闽江学院新华都商学院副院长、厦门大学中国能源经济研究中心主任、博士生导师、2008年教育部“长江学者”特聘教授,主要研究和教学方向为能源经济学。

文章