By Tsvetana Paraskova of OilPrice.com
Higher power demand and efforts to boost energy security pushed China’s coal production to a record-high level in 2023, according to official statistics data published on Wednesday.
Chinese coal output rose by 2.9% year-over-year to 4.66 billion metric tons in 2023, per data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported by Reuters.
Coal imports also rose last year, as some domestic mining operations were suspended for some time in 2023 due to safety inspections and concerns.
Higher demand after the COVID restrictions were lifted and higher domestic coal prices led to record-high coal imports into China, which soared by 61.8% year-on-year to 474.42 million metric tons in 2023, data from the General Administration of Customs showed last week.
In the latter part of 2023, China ramped up coal and natural gas production, imports, and consumption as its electricity demand jumped in the second half and looks to hit a record-high winter peak demand.
Chinese authorities have been keen to avoid a repeat of the 2022 shortages and spiking prices and have instructed utilities and producers to maximize imports and output before the winter.
China continues to rely on coal and coal-fired power generation to meet its growing power demand, and despite being the world’s top investor in solar and wind capacity, it also plans a lot of new coal-fired electricity capacity.
During the first half of 2023 alone, China approved more than 50 GW of new coal power, Greenpeace said in a report this year. That’s more than it did in all of 2021, the environmental campaign group said.
China’s coal demand is expected to drop this year and plateau through 2026, and global demand is set to decline to 2026, “but China will have the last word,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Coal 2023 annual report.
The outlook for coal in China will be significantly affected in the coming years by the pace of its clean energy deployment, weather conditions, and structural shifts in the Chinese economy, according to the agency.