Is peak coal already threatening China ?

To the New York Times green blog : ” China’s ravenous appetite for energy puts the country at risk of reaching a point of  “peak coal,” when demand for coal will outstrip domestic production capacity, a growing number of experts believe.”

China now consumes approximately 47 percent of coal produced globally but by most estimates has just 14 percent of global coal reserves. Meanwhile, demand has risen by about 10 percent per year for the last decade “

China is already the world’s first energy consumer and greenhouse gases emitter. Reading these figures you wonder where  it will stop.

Here are some details :

Coal might be abundant globally, but if China cannot substantially raise its domestic production, increasing imports enough to meet demand may be hard to accomplish in the short-term, putting the country in a potential supply bind.

“I think China is the vulnerable player here — they don’t really have a lot of options,” said David Fridley, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and deputy leader of the laboratory’s China Energy Group.

Evidence that China may be nearing an ultimate limit on production can be seen in rapidly growing imports and a recent proposal by a top energy official that the country cap coal production at around 3.6 billion tons per year beginning in 2011.

China is on pace to produce nearly 3.4 billion tons of coal domestically in 2010, according to a recent Reuters analysis, and will import about 150 million tons this year.

This is another reason for other nations to cut their coal consumption : it is about to get much more expensive…


Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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3 Responses

  1. Coal Portal says:

    Coal Statistics shows that there are many companies answers to the call of a cleaner coal to help the environment preserve it’s purity and as well as the coal industries longevity. Both must work hand in hand to see the sky rocket success in the coal market news and green house effect. Cherry of

  2. Edouard says:

    > Cherry : I don’t want to sound harsh, but clean coal is an oxymoron.

    There is no such thing as cleaner coal as well. This energy source is the environmental enemy number 1.

  1. Monday, January 3, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Garry GreenLA. Garry GreenLA said: On blog : Is peak #coal already threatening #China ? #sustainabledevelopment #asia #energ… […]

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