China’s new 5-year plan: coal! coal! coal!

The excellent web edition of POWERMAG has an interesting article on the energy aspects of China’s 12th five-year plan. Let us start with this table:

The first line is potentially explosive for decarbonization activists: if plans go well, China will produce 0.85*1030*8640 = 7564 TWh electricity from coal alone per year (0.85 is the assumed capacity factor). Now let us take a reasonable value of 0.7 kgCO2 emissions per kWh. This will result in a yearly emission of 5.29 GtCO2 or 1.44 GtC. Total world emissions are about 9 GtC, those of the EU25 1.35 GtC in 2009. This means that in 2020 China will emit about the same quantity of CO2 from coal-electricity alone as the EU25 did in total in 2009(electricity, transport etc…).

If we assume a CO2 emission of about 0.3 kg CO2 for gas and what is called “others” in the table, and take the emissions of all other electricity generators as zero, we obtain an additional global capacity of 96 GW or a total yearly emission of about 0.6 GtC, which does not change the previous results by much.

These future Chinese emissions should make our decarbonization Stakanowitchs think twice, as for instance all major and painful EU efforts will simply become invisible among the big players. There is much pain in that enviro-game, but you need very good magnifying glasses to see the gain.

And taking a last look at the enormous coal reserves leads to the inevitable conclusion, that what is in the underground, will be used.

Chinese coal reserves (figure from referenced Powermag article)

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