MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2007-07-25


China update

25th July 2007

According to a Chinese researcher, the regime has severely underestimated the nation's future energy needs ; under current strategy, dependence on coal is bound to increase.

The world's two top coal-burning states (US and China) are now competing with each other to lead in provision of wind power. However, the total energy globally produced from this source last year was only sufficient to offset carbon emissions from some 23 US coal-fired plants.

Yet another coal mine disaster has claimed the lives of workers in the northeast province of Liaoning - another grim reminder that the state's dependence on coal wreaks unacceptable damage to human lives, as well as contributing to global warming.


China Should Prioritize Energy Efficiency to Deal with Challenge of Reducing Emissions

Jiahua Pan, China Watch

24th July 2007 As the global temperature warms, how to deal with climate change has become a hot topic among the international community. As such, it is important to recognize both the potential and the challenge that China faces in reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In 2005, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 8.7 times higher than it was in 1980, showing an annual average growth rate of some 9.5 percent. Total energy consumption was roughly 4.3 times the 1980 level, with average growth of some 5.7 percent each year. And China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion more than doubled between 1980 and 2003, from 394 million tons to 966 million tons, showing an average growth of nearly 4 percent a year. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China accounted for nearly 18 percent of global CO2 emissions in 2004, up from only 5.7 percent in 1990.

Recent national estimates on China’s economic growth and GHG emissions have underestimated the nation’s future energy needs. A 2003 projection, for example, predicts that China’s total primary energy consumption in 2020 will require some 3.1 billion tons of standard coal equivalent, up from 1.37 billion tons in 1998. And it predicts that China’s CO2 emissions will reach roughly 1.9 billion tons of standard coal equivalent in 2020.

In 2006 alone, however, the nation consumed nearly 2.46 billion tons of standard coal equivalent in total primary energy, or nearly 0.56 billion tons more than it is projected to use in 2010.

The Chinese government has set an energy-saving goal of reducing the country’s energy intensity by 20 percent between 2005 and 2010, but the nation’s total primary energy consumption in 2010 is likely to be close to or even greater than the 2020 projection.

China plays a decisive role in global climate change negotiations as a major developing country. But the international goal of stabilizing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere should take into full consideration China’s current status as an industrializing nation. The country’s rapid industrialization process will last until at least 2020, and its GHG emissions will likely not stop growing before 2050. Moreover, even though China is switching to a low-carbon economy, the cost of reducing GHG emissions is much higher than expected. For example, renovating existing buildings into energy-efficient ones requires an extra 15 percent in investment, while choosing renewable energy costs more than 30 percent more than traditional energy. Where will the money come from? Finally, because carbon capture and storage technologies are costly in the short term, and these treatments also require significant amounts of energy, their potential to reduce GHG emissions remains to be seen.

China should continue to diversify its energy sources. The share of coal in the nation’s total primary energy use dropped from some 72 percent in 1980 to some 68 percent in 2004. But the coal-dominated energy structure has not fundamentally changed in the past 20 years. To optimize its energy structure, ensure energy security, protect the environment, and promote sustainable development, China aims to diversify its energy sources as one of its major energy strategies. According to the Middle and Long-term Renewable Energy Development Plan, by 2020 renewable energy will account for nearly 15 percent of total primary energy consumption—the equivalent of some 3.5 billion tons of coal.

Replacing carbon-intensive coal with low-carbon fuels and developing a diversity of energy sources will help mitigate the effects of rising GHG emissions. According to a report on the status and future prospects of wind power in China, by 2020 the country’s wind-power generating capacity will reach nearly 40,000 megawatts, generating 80 billion kilowatthours in electricity a year for some 800 million residents and avoiding some 48 million tons of CO2 emissions. The Chinese government is also stressing the development and use of nuclear energy, and the nation’s nuclear power generation capacity will account for 4 percent—some 400,000 megawatts—of its total power output by 2020.

Now is a crucial period for China in its industrialization. Because the nation is currently unable to make huge strides in emissions reduction, it should prioritize both energy efficiency and the development of low-emissions technologies to take full advantage of the links between energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions.

Pan Jiahua is vice director and a researcher at the Center for Urban Development and Environment under the China Academy of Social Sciences. A version of this article was first posted by People’s Daily in April.

China Watch is a joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute (GEI) and is supported by the blue moon fund.


2006 Wind Installations Offset More Than 40 Million Tons of CO2

Worldwatch Institute

25th July 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines installed worldwide last year will generate enough clean electricity annually to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 23 average-sized U.S. coal-fired power plants, according to a new Vital Signs Update from the Worldwatch Institute.[1] The 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced in 2006 is equivalent to the emissions of 7,200 megawatts of coal-fired power plants, or nearly 8 million passenger cars.

Global wind power capacity increased almost 26 percent in 2006, exceeding 74,200 megawatts by year’s end. Global investment in wind power was roughly $22 billion in 2006, and in Europe and North America, the power industry added more capacity in wind than it did in coal and nuclear combined. The global market for wind equipment has risen 74 percent in the past two years, leading to long backorders for wind turbine equipment in much of the world.

"Wind power is on track to soon play a major role in reducing fossil fuel dependence and slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Janet Sawin. "Already, the 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced by the new wind plants installed last year equaled more than 5 percent of the year’s growth in global emissions. If the wind market quadruples over the next nine years—a highly plausible scenario—wind power could be reducing global emissions growth by 20 percent in 2015."

Today, Germany, Spain, and the United States generate nearly 60 percent of the world’s wind power. But the industry is shifting quickly from its European and North American roots to a new center of gravity in the booming energy markets of Asia.

In 2006, India was the third largest wind turbine installer and China took the fifth spot, thanks to a 170-percent increase in new wind power installations over the previous year. More than 50 nations now tap the wind to produce electricity, and 13 have more than 1,000 megawatts of wind capacity installed.

As efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions accelerate around the globe, dozens of countries are working to add or strengthen laws that support the development of wind power and other forms of renewable energy. Rapid growth is expected in the next few years in several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, and Portugal.

“China and the United States will compete for leadership of the global wind industry in the years ahead,” says Sawin. “Although the U.S. industry got a 20-year head start, the Chinese are gaining ground rapidly.

Whichever nation wins, it is encouraging to see the world’s top two coal burners fighting for the top spot in wind energy.”

[1] Calculations are based on U.S. data: average capacity factor for new wind power capacity (34%, from American Wind Energy Association); average capacity factor for coal-fired power plants (72%, from North American Electric Reliability Corporation - NERC); average CO2 emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants (0.95 kg/kWh, from U.S. Energy Information Administration); and average coal-fired power plant capacity (318 megawatts, from NERC).


Seven killed in coal mine gas blast in NE China

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-07/22/content_6412651.htm

SHENYANG, (Xinhua)

22nd July 2007

Seven workers were killed in a coal mine gas explosion that occurred Saturday afternoon in northeast China's Liaoning Province, local authorities said on Sunday.

The blast happened at the Xinfa coal mine in Fuxin City at 6:08 p.m. Saturday, when 34 miners were working underground, said an official with the Liaoning coal industry administration.

Twenty-seven managed to escape safely, but seven others died in the accident, said the official, adding rescuers have retrieved the seven bodies.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blast at the licensed coal mine, which has an approved annual capacity of 60,000 tons.

 

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