China coal use to get cleaner

Updated: 2015-04-23 10:14

By DONG LESHUO in Washington(China Daily USA)

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China's relianceon coal isn't going to change anytime soon, but it could get cleaner, according to a new report.

"The delivery of this highly relevant and timely report helps the Western audience feel the pulse of development in China's energy, and to open a dialogue between the West and Chinese experts," said Ayaka Jones, general engineer of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The report she referred to was China Energy Focus 2014: Towards Clean Coal, which was released by China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) in Washington on Wednesday.

Anne Korin of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security called the report, whichprovides facts and analysis on the latest developments in cleaner coal use in China,"thorough, detailed and balanced" and recommended everyone look at it carefully.

The CEFC report recognizes the urgency of cleaner coal utilization in China as a way to balance the need for affordable fuel sources for growth and mitigating the harmful effects associated with coal consumption.

The report pointed out that cleaner utilization of coal in China is usually comprehended in a broader sense that not only covers technological aspects like carbon mitigation, but also includes improving power plant efficiency, coal-based chemical conversions and coal preparation.

The report concludes that coal will remain the mainstay of China's energy development, but that China is aware of and committed to mitigating the bad environment effects associated with extensive coal consumption.

China consumes 4-to-4.5 billion tons of coal each year, almost as much as the rest of the world combined, according to the EIA, makingup 65 percent of primary energy consumption in China. In 2014, it dropped to 62 percent, but this figure is not expected to vary much in the next 30 to 50 years. It is predicted that by 2035, China's share of coal consumption could be above 40 percent.

It is the case not only in China but in many countries, according to Zeng Xingqiu, vice-chairman of the Energy Research Center of China Investment Association.

"China has to use coal. It's a truth that cannot be denied," saidAndrew C. O. Lo, deputy secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee. "But China has to use coal in a cleaner way."

"Clean coal use is urgent and immediate to reconcile the tension between the need to grow the economy and the need to protect the environment," the EIA's Jones said.

"Coal use in China will get cleaner and cleaner, and can even be cleaner than nature gas," said Zhang Jiansheng, a professor of thermal engineering at Tsinghua University.

"Coal will inevitably be replaced by new energies," Zeng said. "However, it is as yet impossible to limit the use of coal. It's too soon to start talking about a post-coal era."

Zeng thinks that at present "a common task among coal industries around the world is to promote the clean and efficient use of coal through an industrial trend."

"The future of the world depends on the quality of US and China cooperation on a full range of issues. Especially, those directly impacting the quality of life around the world, like energy and environmental protection," said Charles Blum, president ofInternational Advisory Services Group.

"I hope the US government and researchers can work together with us to improve coal efficiency and improve the environment in China and also the world," Zhang said.

CEFC is a non-governmental, non-profit think tank engaged in energy strategy research, energy and public diplomacy, as well as global energy cooperation and cultural exchanges.