January 18, 2023 - China produced a record amount of coal last year although output ended the year with a decline amid the latest surge in covid infections.
Total output for the year reached 4.496 billion tons, which was a 9-percent increase on 2021, according to official statistics data reported by Reuters.
Chinese government officials said in March last year that the country will continue to maximize coal use as it prioritizes energy security. This is very much what Europe did, too, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as gas prices soared sky-high and they were no longer guaranteed.
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 percent 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.
What’s more, China suffered a power shortage in 2021 and seems determined to not let it happen again, as it did with the gas shortage of December 2017. To avoid a repeat, the country is making sure there is enough primary energy, regardless of its form, and coal continues to be one of the most readily available forms of primary energy.
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.
Even with these plans, China, which is the biggest emitter in the world, aims to bring its emissions to a peak by 2030 and reach net-zero status by 2060.