China will continue promoting the clean and efficient use of coal while boosting relevant technological research and development in order to ensure sufficient energy supplies amid the country’s green transition, said industry experts. The nation needs to work on accelerating the transformation of coal power generation and developing relevant technologies that will promote its clean and efficient use so as to ensure energy security and achieve green development, said Song Hailiang, chairman of China Energy Engineering Group Co Ltd.
With the share of new energy in the power generation sector increasing rapidly over the past few years, coal will nevertheless play a bigger role as an emergency backup power supply rather than a basic support power supply, as the country vows to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, said Song, who is also a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
He suggested innovations of relevant design standards and pricing mechanisms for coal power, together with advancing technological research and development.
The government vows to continue strengthening the basic supporting role of coal and take orderly steps to increase advanced coal production, while working faster to develop new energy systems to support the country’s green transition.
Coal has continued to play its role as a primary energy source in China over the past year and advanced coal capacity has been added to further support power generation and heating supply enterprises so as to ensure reliable energy supplies, according to the Government Work Report delivered at the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress on Sunday.
The past five years have seen China’s ultra-low emissions coal-fired power capacity exceed 1,050 gigawatts, it said.
Preliminary estimates by the National Bureau of Statistics show China’s total energy consumption in 2022 amounted to 5.41 billion metric tons of standard coal equivalent, of which, coal consumption accounted for 56.2 percent.
Clean energy consumption, such as natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind and solar power, accounted for 25.9 percent — up 0.4 percentage point from the year before, it said.
An analyst said that instead of banning coal outright, China needs to work on developing relevant technologies that will promote its clean and efficient use to ensure energy security and achieve green development.
Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute, said China — as the world’s second-largest economy — has been boosting the use of natural gas and renewable energy in recent years to lower carbon emissions. However, tensions between Russia and Ukraine have highlighted the importance of energy security.
“For China, coal as a primary energy source will ensure secure energy supplies. Carbon peaking and carbon neutrality are not incompatible with energy security and the transformation of coal, together with other technologies including carbon capture and storage, will further facilitate the green transition,” Luo said.
The reliance on coal is temporary as emerging forms of green generation have not been able to cover all the demand growth, but the trend is certain that coal consumption will start to decrease year-on-year, he said.
Song said that China has been optimizing its coal power structure while eliminating outdated production capacity in recent years. Coal remains an important part of China’s economy and will play an irreplaceable role in achieving power peak regulation and ensuring the safe and reliable supply of energy.