Monday’s news that China’s energy intensity dropped by 4.8% in 2014 not only beat expectations by nearly a percentage point; it gave credibility to China’s pledge to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030. The challenge, reflected in this chart, will be reducing China’s reliance on coal for around 75% of its total power generation, far exceeding that of other major economies. Historically, coal has figured prominently as an energy source for other industrializing nations—cutting the share of coal in the US took decades. But a recent Paulson Institute paper by Damien Ma on China’s energy strategy finds reason to be optimistic, concluding that China’s current energy strategy appears to center around a diversification away from coal, with an increased focus on natural gas and renewables growth. Though coal will likely account for at least 60% of China’s primary energy mix in the foreseeable future, perhaps China’s energy mix will resemble that of its economic peers sooner than previously thought.
Burning Down China’s Coal Complex
January 22, 2015