China escalates its war on the world’s climate | RenewEconomy

China escalates its war on the world’s climate

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Forget about spies, China’s war on the world is visible in plain sight.

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W9CEBT A Chinese cyclist rides his bicycle past a coal-fired power plant in Beijing, China, 20 July 2008.
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Few words are needed. A couple of graphs tell the story.

Thermal generation
Figure 1: Thermal generation. Source: China stats bureau

Coal fuelled electricity production is up  800 TWh since 2014, about four times the annual output of Australia’s entire grid. The increase is also roughly equal to 25% of annual production in the US.

Over that five years, China has moved from being broadly equal to the US in terms of production to having around 60% more electricity consumption than the US. Per capita China consumption is, however, 37% of the US.

The increase in thermal production in recent months in China is due to a decline in Hydro. Nuclear, wind and solar are all well up year on year but thermal’s share of generation is stuck at 70%.

Figure 2: Source Nat Bureau of Statistics China

The growth in electricity consumption has come because China has reverted to growing its secondary industry economy (ie heavy, energy intensive products). Here are some selected stats:

Figure 3. Source: National Bureau of statistics China

Asia was already by far the dominant geographic source of carbon emission growth.

Of course, it’s unfair to blame Asia in many ways because it is just trying to move its people up the world standard of living, but the simple truth is that neither the Asian people nor the rest of the world can afford the incremental damage that will have to be paid for by several generations of people at a minimum.

We are moving to an apocalyptic future but not as the movies would have it. There will be no space invasion,  just the simple neglect and unwillingness to adapt at the required pace.

The chart below, already a year out of date puts it most obviously.

Figure 4. Source: Global Carbon Project

 

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17 Comments
  1. Chris Drongers 9 months ago

    Oh come on! The commentary about CO2, China and the future of the planet is all over the place.
    In early November it was fighting CO2 is hopeless as annual coal power station construction outpaced retirements by 290 GW, mainly in or financed by China.
    Last week it was that we are starting to get CO2 under control as coal plant utilisation hits record low worldwide and uneconomically low in China woth declining renewables prices about to force operating coal plants into bankruptcy.
    Now its China and Asia blowing the world CO2 budget without explanation that these countries are trying to rescue their economies and keep the blue-collar masses employed in the current worldwide economic downturn.
    Tomorrow China may commission a new HVDC powerline from Xinjiang pv to Tshensen reducing curtailment and once more we will all be saved.
    I get the feeling we in the commentariate are marking time until the annual energy production, renewables installation figures for 2019 come out.

  2. trackdaze 9 months ago

    time for tariff based on a country of origins energy mix / co2 emissions. import tax on coal,gas or oil wouldn’t hurt to enable the transistion.

    • Peter Farley 9 months ago

      It would severely penalise Australia

  3. Cooma Doug 9 months ago

    Angus has Watergate, Grassgate, Clovergate
    and Coalgate. He can close the Coalgate.

  4. Pete 9 months ago

    This may sound totally naieve, but it only takes one piece of straw to break the camels back. I view South Australia as a good test bed for the future, noting that I think it is over the worst of the transition, but still has a way to go. (I also happen to think SA is a good example of what the Australian economy looks like without our peanut-brained M&M growth model – Mining and Migration!)

    It only takes one country or region to break step with cheap electricity BECAUSE of renewables, attracting energy heavy industry – and then the game will really be on. We are starting to see that in South Australia in the past 12 months. The SA State Government talks about being net 100% renewables by 2030. If the NSW connector is completed within the next 3 years I believe it will happen by 2025. NSW. QLD and Vic have big expensive humps to overcome every time a coal plant shuts down. However they will have to follow SA to compete because cheap energy is still a fundamental part of economic growth. I think Gupta sees this future too.

    • Peter Farley 9 months ago

      It will probably happen quicker without the interconnector. The money the interconnector would cost would be far better spent on grid control of heating and cooling and a couple of 250 MW pumped hydro systems and sixty 5-20 MW/12-40 MWh batteries distributed around the grid, about 1/3rd at generators and 2/3 rds at big loads or zone substations, While SA is a great place for pumped hydro in old mines I think that a combination of batteries and flexible loads will probably mean that not much pumped hydro will be built

      But you point is right, the northern part of Spencer gulf is now one of the lowest cost energy provinces in the world because of the existing infrastructure and the almost unmatched combination of generous wind and solar resources mean that energy costs are low and backup requirements are minimal.

  5. Peter Farley 9 months ago

    You need to be careful about China’s thermal generation figures because they include gas and biomass which are both rising much faster than coal. As far as I can tell coal is rising less than 2% per year and there is definitely a change in the mix of plants so coal use per MWh is actually falling slightly.
    Also China is still installing wind and solar at a slower clip than last year but still faster than any other country on earth. However there does seem to be an increased push on distributed solar and offshore wind, so I suspect the coal boom is a) overstated and b) short lived

    • David leitch 9 months ago

      Id be interested to know where you get gas generation and biomes figures from. So far I think gas generation is very small and biomass almost irrelevant. However I agree its something to keep an eye on. Most of the imported gas to date is used for direct process heating not electricity. China cannot afford to run its industrial economy on gas, certainly not on LNG and almost as certainly not on piped gas from Tazakstan or Russia.

    • Chris Drongers 9 months ago

      A little bit of evidence that China is likely to go directly from coal to renewables is the slow/non-existent development of the enormous supplies of methane hydrates on the Tibetan Plateau. Thankfully.
      If China really wanted to go down the USA path of substituting gas for coal there would be a lot more activity there.

  6. Aluap 9 months ago

    How much of this thermal electricity production comes from Australian coal? If we didn’t provide the coal, how much would global emissions reduce?

    • LandyMan 9 months ago

      They would go up as poorer quality coal from elsewhere would be used

      • Joe 9 months ago

        Oh dear, the same old tired argument of the ‘drug pusher defence’ – if we don’t supply ‘it’ then someone else will. India, Pakistan, China, Mongolia, countries with cities that have some of the dirtiest and deadliest air in the world for their citizens to breathe largely the result of burning coal. It would take some gall for a country to willingly import ‘poorer quality coal’ to exacerbate the decline in health of its citizens. Now, a smart country would recognise a glorious business opportunity presented here to assist those countries,with their their poor air quality, to junk the killer coal burners and help with replacement using RE; Australia anyone? No of course not, Australia is led by a clown PM and his crew of muppets who reckon that coal is here to help, “This is coal. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It’s coal” and “now is not the time to talk about climate”.

  7. LandyMan 9 months ago

    The elephant in the room is population growth globally, which is studiously ignored. Why do we subsidise population growth

    • nakedChimp 9 months ago

      Fine, educate women and give them equal rights to men and this problem vanishes.

  8. Miles Harding 9 months ago

    To be fair to china, a lot of this is fuelled by consumerism and globalisation.

    Consumerism because there is apparently no limit to the amount of cheap crap we are willing to buy and
    Globalisation for always moving entirely to the cheapest supplier that won’t cause unmanageable blowback from slavery, child labour or poisoning of an entire population.

  9. Alan Wilson 9 months ago

    The graph shows why co2 in the atmosphere is not slowing down …. we may not make it

  10. Sapoty Brook 9 months ago

    “just the simple neglect and unwillingness” to mention collapse of food systems!

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