BEIJING - Nearly half
of China's energy is expected to come from sources
other than coal 15 years from now, as the country
is determined to optimize energy consumption by
alleviating coal dependency, experts and officials
Coal will be used in an
increasingly clean and efficient way to protect
the environment and ensure energy security,
experts proposed in the "2006 China Energy
Development Report", which was published by the
Social Sciences Academic Press early this week in
As the world's second-largest
consumer of energy after the United States, China
is heavily dependent on coal, which accounted for
67.7% of its energy consumption in 2004, or
one-third of the coal
consumed worldwide, Cui
Minxuan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences (CASS), said in the report.
In economies with a more balanced energy
use structure, petroleum usually makes up 30-40%
of total energy consumption, while coal makes up a
modest 10-20%, according to Cui.
Sixty-eight percent of China's annual
energy use since 2003 has been fueled by coal,
while less than 23% came from petroleum, according
to official statistics.
China's economic growth along a rapid and sound
track, the country must optimize its consumption
structure by rapidly developing natural gas,
hydropower and nuclear power and using more
renewable energy," Cui said. The optimized
structure would translate into improved energy use
efficiency and reduced total energy demands, he
In the annual energy development
report, Cui and his colleagues predict that by
2010, 61.2% of the country's energy consumption
will still come from coal, but petroleum
consumption will become a quarter of total energy
consumption. Natural gas, on the other hand, will
double from the 2003 level to reach 5.3% of the
country's total energy consumption.
2020, petroleum, gas and electricity combined will
have a 46% share of total energy consumption,
while the proportion of coal will shrink to 54%,
according to the report.
Hu Yuhong, an
official with the China Coal Industry Association,
said she believed the ratio of natural gas would
continue to edge up in the years ahead, with
projects launched to transfer gas from the
country's west to its east and to import gas from
Russia. But ultimately, coal will remain the major
source of energy to fuel China's economy in the
decades to come, she said.
occupying such a dominant position in its energy
pool, China has been planning to improve coal-use
efficiency and has been studying clean coal
technology since late 1980s, said Huang Shengchu,
chief of the China Coal Information Institute.
In a speech delivered on Monday in St
Petersburg while attending the Group of Eight
summit, President Hu Jintao called for
international communities to step up cooperative
efforts to develop clean coal technology.
Huang said China had been cooperating with
South Africa and the United States in piloting and
promoting clean coal technology in China. Air
emissions of sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen
associated with coal-burning could be
significantly reduced by liquefying coal, Huang
Hu Yuhong said the state-owned
Shenhua Group, a pioneer in developing the
coal-to-liquid (CTL) business in China, had
earmarked 25 billion yuan (US$3 billion) for clean
coal technology. Last week, Shenhua signed an
agreement with Royal Dutch Shell and South
Africa-based Sasol to build two CTL plants in the
Ningxia Hui autonomous region in northwestern
Producing clean fuels through coal
liquefaction is a strategic solution to offsetting
China's shortage of petroleum and balancing the
country's energy structure, Cui said in his energy
Statistics show that
China's nationwide stock of coal reached 152
million tons at the end of last month, increasing
by 8.8% or 12.26 million tons from the beginning
of the year.
The coal inventory of
producers was 40 million tons, up 38.2% or 11.06
million tons from the beginning of this year.
A survey shows that when the coal
inventory across the country is less than 120
million tons, coal supplies will be in short
supply; if the stock exceeds 150 million tons,
coal will be in oversupply.
statistics indicate that coal overproduction is on
the horizon after the overcapacity in 1998.
Industry insiders note that the 1998 coal
overcapacity was due to the decline in demand
resulting from the Asian financial crisis.
However, the current coal overcapacity
lies on the supply side. The growth of supply has
greatly exceeded that of demand.