'Clean coal' could offset petroleum shortage

By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-18 13:45
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Nearly half of China's energy is expected to come from sources other than coal 15 years from now, as the country is determined to optimise energy consumption by alleviating coal dependency, experts and officials said yesterday.

Coal will be used in an increasingly clean and efficient way to protect the environment and ensure energy security, experts proposed in the "2006 China Energy Development Report," which was published by the Social Sciences Academic Press yesterday in Beijing.

As the world's second largest consumer of energy after the United States, China is heavily dependent on coal, which accounted for 67.7 per cent of its energy consumption in 2004, representing one-third of the coal used worldwide, Cui Minxuan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in the report.

In economies with a more balanced energy use structure, petroleum usually makes up 30 to 40 per cent of total energy consumption, while coal makes up a modest 10 to 20 per cent, Cui said.

Sixty-eight per cent of China's annual energy use since 2003 has been fuelled by coal, while less than 23 per cent came from petroleum, according to official statistics.

"To sustain China's economic growth along a rapid and sound track, the country must optimise its consumption structure by rapidly developing natural gas, hydropower  and nuclear power and using more renewable energy," Cui said.

The optimized structure will translate into improved energy use efficiency and reduced total energy demands, he said.

In the annual energy development report, Cui and his colleagues predict that by 2010, 61.2 per cent of the country's energy consumption will still come from coal, but petroleum consumption will become a quarter of total energy consumption.

Natural gas, on the other hand, will double from the 2003 level to reach 5.3 per cent of the country's energy consumption.

By 2020, petroleum, gas and electricity combined will have a 46 per cent share of total energy consumption, while the proportion of coal will shrink to 54 per cent, according to the report.

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