Measures to limit emissions and diversify China’s economy are having real results on the nation’s coal usage, according to Sarah Liu, Deputy General Manager of Fenwei Energy.

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While coal’s slice of the energy mix is shrinking in China, the world’s biggest coal consumer still used more of the resource last year in absolute terms than in 2017

Ms Liu said that China had taken steps to reduce coal consumption to meet its goal of reducing its proportion in its energy mix to below 58 per cent by 2020.

“China is very close to meeting its emissions target,” Ms Liu said. “Coal accounted for 59 per cent of China’s overall energy consumption last year, with gas, nuclear power and renewable energy making up around 22 per cent.”

While coal’s slice of the energy mix is shrinking in China, the world’s biggest coal consumer still used more of the resource last year in absolute terms than in 2017, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

These numbers reflect a changing economy and a shift towards cleaner energies according to Ms Liu.

“China is promoting power replacement for coal in the form of gas and renewables. China is also supporting the usage of clean coal technologies,” Ms Liu said.

By the end of the third quarter of 2018, the capacity of ultra-low emissions coal power generators in China reached more than 750 million kilowatts, accounting for more than 75 per cent of the country’s total installed capacity of coal power generation.

This transformation has resulted in an 86 per cent decrease in sulphur dioxide emissions, 89 per cent cut in nitrogen oxides, and 85 per cent less smoke dust from 2012 to 2017, according to the China Electricity Council.

On top of structural changes, the shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a service economy is also changing the outlook for coal.

“The Chinese economy has been changing in recent years, and so has power consumption per sector,” Ms Liu said.

“The growth rate of energy-intensive industries, such as factories and construction, is beginning to slow down, while the services sector is rapidly rising.”

In 2018, the service sector consumed 1.08 trillion kilowatt-hours an increase of 12.7 per compared with the previous year.

Electricity used by information transmission, software and information technology services continued the rising trend in recent years, surging 23.5 per cent year-on-year according to the China Electricity Council.

These policy changes come at a time that when the world’s biggest mining companies – many of which are clients of Fenwei Energy – are rethinking their outlook for coal.

Global mining company Rio Tinto has divested from thermal coal with other majors including BHP and Glencore vowing to transition out of the commodity sooner than expected.

While creating headlines, Ms Liu isn’t shaken saying that these are diversified mining companies which are optimising their business strategies.

“Companies such as Yancoal Australia, which purchased assets from Rio Tinto in Queensland still see value and a business case for thermal coal,” she said.

Yancoal Australia is Australia’s largest pure-coal producer. The company produced 32.9 million tonnes of saleable thermal and metallurgical coal in 2018 for export into international markets and in 2019 was aiming for 35 million tonnes.

“There is still a great demand for coal, and it will exist in the Chinese energy mix for some time to come,” said Ms Liu.

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Top 40 reach and external market drivers. Source: USGS and PwC Mine 2019: Resourcing the future report 前40个触及率和外部市场驱动力。资料来源:美国地质勘探局和普华永道2019年矿山:为未来报告提供资源
 

政策变化影响了中国煤炭行业的前景

据汾渭能源公司副总经理Sarah Liu表示,限制排放和使中国经济多样化的一系列措施对中国的煤炭使用带来了可观的效果。

刘表示,中国对减少煤炭消费已经采取了措施,以实现在2020年将煤炭在能源结构中的比重降至58%以下的目标。

刘表示:“中国已经快实现了其减少气体排放的目标.” “去年,煤炭占中国总能源消耗的59%,其中天然气、核能和可再生能源约占22%.”

中国国家统计局(National Bureau of Statistics)的数据显示,尽管煤炭在中国能源结构使用中的比重正在下降,但中国作为全球最大的煤炭消费国,去年消耗的煤炭绝对值仍高于2017年。

刘表示,这些数字反映了中国经济的变化和向清洁能源使用的转变。

中国正在推动以天然气和可再生能源的形式取代煤炭发电。并且也是支持使用清洁煤炭技术的国家之一。

截至2018年第三季度末,中国超低排放燃煤发电装机容量超过7.5亿千瓦,占全国燃煤发电总装机容量的75%以上。

根据中国电力企业联合会(China Electricity Council)的数据,从2012年到2017年,清洁能源使用的转型已使二氧化硫排放量减少了86%,氮氧化物排放量减少了89%和烟尘排放量减少了85%

除了结构性变化之外,从以制造业为基础的经济向服务经济的转变也在改变煤炭行业的前景。

刘表示:“近年来,中国经济一直在变化,每个部门的电力消耗也在变化。”“工厂和建筑等能源密集型行业的增速开始放缓,而服务业正在迅速增长。

2018年,服务业用电量消耗了1.08万亿千瓦时,比2017年增长了12.7亿千瓦时。

中国电力企业联合会(China Electricity Council)的数据显示,近年来,信息传输、软件和信息技术服务等行业的用电量持续增长,与同时期相比增长了23.5%

在这些政策发生变化之际,全球最大的几家矿业公司——其中许多都是汾渭能源公司的客户——也在重新思考煤炭前景对自己带来的影响。

全球矿业公司和力拓矿业集团(Rio Tinto)已撤出热煤业务,包括必和必拓公司(BHP)和嘉能可公司(Glencore)在内的其他矿业巨头,并称将比预期更早地退出热煤业务。

在矿业公司制造新闻头条的同时,刘女士毫不动摇地表示,这些多元化的矿业公司正在优化其业务战略。

她表示:“澳洲煤公司(Yancoal Australia)等公司仍认为热煤有商业价值。该公司从昆士兰的力拓矿业手中收购了资产。”

澳州煤公司是澳大利亚最大的纯煤生产商。该公司2018年生产了3,290万吨可销售的热煤和冶金煤并出口到国际市场,其公司2019年的目标是3500万吨。

刘表示:“煤炭需求仍然很大,在未来一段时间内,煤炭仍将活动于中国的能源结构中。

*Article published in the October-December 2019 issue of The Asia Miner