Demand for Chinese coal will begin to fall in 2025 once consumption by electric utilities and other industrial sectors peaks, an expert group has said in a new report, easing pressure on Beijing to impose stricter restrictions on fossil fuels.
The world’s largest coal consumer is expected to see its total consumption fall 18% from 2018 to 2035, and 39% from 2018 to 2050, according to the Economics and Technology Research Institute of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), in a report reported by Reuters.
Although the share of coal in the country’s total energy mix fell to 59% last year from 68.5% in 2012, overall consumption in 2018 increased 3% over the previous year to 3,820 million tons, according to official data.
However, CNPC researchers said they expected the total share of coal to fall to 40.5% by 2035 as renewable, nuclear and natural gas capacity continues to increase rapidly.
“With the gradual drop in demand for coal in China, global coal consumption is forecast to peak within 10 years. Meanwhile, demand for Chinese coal, which currently represents half of the world total, will decline to about 35% by 2050,” the report said.
Li Ruifeng, deputy director of China Energy Economics and Technology Research Institute, a group of experts led by China Energy Group, China’s largest coal producer, said coal will remain China’s main fuel for the next 15 years, with smaller mines replaced by larger and more efficient mines in the west. That would force electricity companies on China’s east coast to turn to foreign markets to secure supply, and imports will remain at about 200 million tons per year in the next few years “if there is no significant trade barrier,” he said.