China & Coal
By Paul Homewood
As we know, coal consumption has stalled in the last year or so in China. This has led to much speculation about the role of renewable energy and China’s promise to reduce the carbon intensity of their economy.
Without wanting to disappoint the greenies, the reality is rather more mundane.
The simple fact is that steel output in China has not only stalled as well, but provisional data for 2015 shows it declining.
Steel production, of course, is heavily dependent on coal, both for coke in the blast furnace process, and for electricity.
Moreover, steel consumption in China is falling faster than output, which is being held up by increased exports. The World Steel Association statistics show that consumption fell by 25 million tonnes, or 3% between 2013 and 2014. No figures are available for 2015 yet, but it seems inevitable that there will be an even bigger drop.
This all means that, as well as reduced coal consumption in the steel making processes, there has also been reduced activity in downstream steel using industries, themselves highly energy intensive.
What the future holds for China’s economy is anybody’s guess. My own view is that GDP growth will be much less than they have planned for. If this is so, energy consumption and emissions will grow much more slowly in the past.
But none of this will have anything to do with the Chinese wanting to save the planet.