Coal central to China’s energy future

Letter to the Editor

With reference to your report “Beijing plans to go coal turkey” (AFR, August 6), this may leave the false impression the Chinese government is signalling a wider shift in energy policy and preferred fuel sources.

This is not the case. It is part of a previously flagged domestic strategy to replace existing and older coal-fired plants in highly populated areas with new, larger, more efficient coal-fired plants located in regional supply hubs. Subsequently, electricity will be transmitted from these plants to the coastal provinces via ultra-high-voltage transmission lines.

It is worth observing the policy is also about shutting down inefficient and antiquated coal- fired apartment block heating. While detractors of the coal industry may wish otherwise, developing economies, including China and India, will help underpin demand for coal which will deliver both economic and major social benefits through access to reliable and affordable electricity.

Moreover, improvements in technology and energy efficiency continue to see coal making a substantial and positive environmental contribution.

Specifically, industry analysts such as Wood Mackenzie have stated China’s strong appetite for thermal coal will lead to a doubling of demand by 2030. In addition, Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics projects that China’s import growth of metallurgical coal, which is used in steel production, will reach 113 million tonnes in 2019, and that the bulk of this additional demand will be met by Australia.

This is unambiguously a positive position for Australia, jobs and the wider economy and underscores the importance of remaining a competitive and reliable resource supplier.

Greg Evans
Minerals Council of Australia
Canberra, ACT

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