The United States has a broader array of energy options than China does. However, China is innovating and investing heavily in what it has, and some of the transformations it is achieving already are truly impressive.
China’s leaders have made a strategic choice about the direction of the country: They are aiming to shift from an economy based on heavy, polluting industries to one driven by technology and innovation. The political will for this upgrade has roots in both international geostrategic ambitions and domestic popular grievances about lagging standards of living—and it is beginning to bear fruit. In the process, however, vested interests and technical stumbling blocks have wasted resources and acted as a ballast against Chinese progress. China has the potential to do much more, and the international community should push it to achieve that potential.
Anyone with doubts about China’s demand for energy including for thermal coal needed to sustain its gigantic economy should cast their eyes over the latest statistics for power generation from Beijing’s National Statistics Bureau.
These data are a treasure trove in terms of revealing trends in China’s energy production and appetite for thermal coal sourced from both inside China and from imports shipped from countries including, Australia, Indonesia and Russia.
China’s natural gas production surged to a record last month and coal output rebounded as economic growth accelerated power use in the world’s largest energy user.
Natural gas production in March rose 8.2 percent from the average of the first two months of the year to a record 13.6 billion cubic meters, according to data Monday from the National Bureau of Statistics. Coal output rose almost 13 percent over the same period to average 9.67 million tons a day, the highest daily level since December, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the data.
With soaring car sales in China in mind, U.S. President Donald Trump might want to sway his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to grant American manufacturers easy access to the Chinese market. In 2008, sales in China caught up with those in the United States (at 6.7 million units). In 2016, sales stood at a whopping 24.4 million and counting. Sales of cars in other big manufacturing nations are almost stagnant.
Chinese engineer and inventor Feng Weizhong has an easy answer to how China plans to keep slashing coal use and power-station emissions while relying on coal to provide at least 55 per cent of its massive energy demand for decades to come. The effervescent Professor Feng, who is also general manager of a large Shanghai power plant, explained to The Australian how the country can contrive to do both at the same time. “Simple! It’s clean coal!”
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