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China's Coal Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By 2006, China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ( NEAA ), soaring energy demand for coal and a surge in cement production have resulted in China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US: China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US and 600m tonnes from Britain.
(Figures only include carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production. They do not include sources of other greenhouse gases, such as methane from agriculture and nitrous oxide from industrial processes.)
China has fairly rich fossil energy resources, dominated by coal. By 2006, the reserves of coal stood at 1,034 billion tons, and the remaining verified reserves exploitable accounted for 13% of the world total, ranking China third in the world.
There are more than 30,000 coal mines in the country, most are small mines producing a third of the country’s coal. They, in general, operate at low efficiency with low safety regulations.
China coal mines are accident prone, probably due to lack of safely measures. In 2004 alone, 6 000 were killed - 20 a day officially! In 2008, death toll was 91,172, down 15.1% from 2007, as disclosed by the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS). It was the first time since 1995 the figure fell below 100,000, according to the chief work safety regulator. The number of accidents fell 19.3% to 413,700 in 2008.
According to the Reference Scenario of the World Energy Outlook 2008, China will overtake the US to become the world's largest energy consumer after 2010. Primary energy demand will double by 2030. Carbon dioxide emission is projected to account for 28% of the world total. China is also the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, but its coal resource is not enough to meet demands. It is a net importer of oil, gas and coal.
Despite the economic slowdown in exports and domestic demand in 2008, China’s demand for energy remains high. China has emerged from being a net oil exporter in the early 1990s to become the world’s third-largest net importer of oil in 2006. Natural gas usage in China has also increased rapidly in recent years, and China has looked to raise natural gas imports via pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG). During this projected period, China needs to add more than 1 300 GW of electricity, more than the current capacity in the US.
China’s per-capita average of energy resources is very low. It has a large population, resulting in a low per-capita average of energy resources in the world, and thuslow emission per capita. The per-capita average of both coal and hydropower resources is 50 percent of the world’s average, while the per-capita average of both oil and natural gas resources is only about one-fifteenth of the world’s average.
China has set its own target to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% of 2005 in 2010. Accordingly that would mean reducing energy dependence on coal to 60% by 2020; diversification from coal, with increased output from gas, nuclear and renewable options. Incidentally, this diversification also coincides with China's aim to increase its energy security by reducing its dependence on foreign energy sources.
The Government implements an extensive number of top-down measures to create awareness at all levels (public and industries) to pollution curbing and energy conservation:
The China director for the Climate Group, revealed to NY Times on Jan 9, 2009, that many new power plants in China are being built with space set aside for the eventual installation of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, CCS technology for capturing, compressing and eventual disposal (storage) of carbon dioxide.
China and Australia officially announced a collaboration on Jul 31 2008 on a pilot project which will be the first post-combustion capture and storage (PCC) in China, expected to capture 3,000 tonnes of the gas annually. PCC technology feeds gases (containing carbon dioxide) from power stations through an absorbent solution to capture the carbon dioxide. Emission reductions will be more than 85%, but technology is just in its early stage. (scidev.net)
Imposing stricter environmental policies on the Coal Mine Methane, CMM projects to lessen pollution and related healthcare problems. In April 2008, the Ministry of Environmental Protection prohibited coal mines from releasing gases containing more than 30% methane. Latest projects secured involves the utilization of methane from coal mine to power its own operation.
Fuel switching, efficient appliances, better heating and cooling systems, and improved building envelope technologies will be needed in the fast-growing buildings sector. By 2020, China will still be dependent on coal for 54% - 65% of its primary energy, even with rapid growth of other fuels and substantial progress in raising the efficiency of coal use.
Obtaining sufficient supply of natural gas to meet demand from households, commercial buildings, and electric utilities is crucial. State-owned oil majors are encouraged to secure production rights at oil fields throughout the world.
Once a net exporter of oil, China imported 47.3% of its crude in the first half of 2006. The US Department of Energy predicts China’s crude imports will represent 75% of national oil consumption by 2025. Currently, domestic oil producers are busy buying foreign oil assets. China has signed multi-billion overseas oil and gas contracts with Africa, Iran, Kazakhstan and Australia to ensure sufficient energy supplies for future growth.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency look set for a boost as Beijing authorities have now outlined plans to diversify their energy resources in the face of continued price rises, pollution concerns and China’s unquenchable fuel and electricity demands.
In its diversification from oil strategy,
which is part of the
China’s 2006-2010 Five-Year Plan,
China planned for a 100% increase in
renewable energy generation to
cater for 15% of the country’s needs by 2020. With a whooping
population of 1.28 billion, implementations of policies to goal
achievement will definitely face multitudes of obstacles.
References and related news:
China Climate Change Info-Net: Ccchina