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China Sees Coal Use Fall For 1st Time This Century

According to data published by the China Coal Resource (and translated by the Greenpeace Energydesk), China’s coal use has dropped this year by 1.28%, a downward trend started in the second quarter of 2014 and continued in the third.

This, despite statistics from the Chinese National Energy Administration that electricity consumption has actually increased by 4% over the year to date, making many wonder whether the link between China’s growth and coal usage may finally be breaking.

The press release (using Google’s translator) from the China Coal Resource states that “coal production and sales show that imports have decreased year on year in the first three quarters” — adding that the reduction is “still far from the goal.”

More recently, coal production levels dropped 21.97 million tonnes in September, a fall of 7%.

According to the Greenpeace Energydesk, the cause of the sudden recent drop is thanks to “slow power demand growth and large hydropower additions.”

China has been working hard to navigate the tricky waters of its coal usage over the past year, initiating several reforms that intend to reduce the country’s pollution levels and reliance upon coal.

In August, China’s capital of Beijing announced that it would be banning coal sale and use by 2020 in the six main districts “and other regions.” The move was closely followed by news from Chinese state media outlet Xinhua that the capital had cut coal use by 7% in the first half of 2014.

A month later, the country’s National Development and Reform Commission announced that it would be banning the sale and import of coal containing quantities of ash and sulphur. The move hits hard at countries like Australia that are heavily reliant upon coal exports to China, as the vast majority of all Australian coal exports to China contain high quantities of ash and sulphur. The news was closely followed by China’s intention to place a tariff on Australian coal, in an effort that was explained would help struggling Chinese coal manufacturers.

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