May 23, 2023 - China’s coal imports from Australia rose by 75% on the month in April as the country regains its taste for high-quality thermal coal, Bloomberg has reported, citing Chinese customs data.
China stopped imports of Australian coal three years ago amid a diplomatic rift between the two countries. Since then, it has been importing more from other sources, such as Russia, and its own coal supplies, which, however, are of lower quality.
As of April, Australian coal imports accounted for a tenth of the total, which may not be a whole lot but it was twice as much as the portion it accounted for in the previous month, the Bloomberg report noted.
Partly as a result of the Australian coal import suspension and partly because of growing power demand, China’s coal production hit a record last year. At 4.496 billion tons, the 2022 total was a 9% increase on 2021.
Although China is the most ambitious investor in and developer of wind and solar as replacements of fossil fuels, coal continues to account for a solid chunk of its energy production, at 57% of the total in 2020.
“We don’t want to be like Europe and transform at the cost of energy security. They are now declaring that they are taking a step back in order to take two steps forward later,” Li Zheng, climate change and energy professor at Tsinghua University, said in November last year.
Estimates show that coal generation capacity expansion in China could reach 270 GW by 2025, which would be more than the total coal generation capacity in the United States right now.
At the moment, China is either building or preparing to start building some 366 GW in new coal capacity. This represents some 68% of global planned new capacity of as last year.