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China Moves Past ‘Peak Coal’ with 15.5% Production Cut in One Year

Rob Loftis/Wikipedia
Rob Loftis/Wikipedia

China has cut its coal production 15.5% over the last year, and 8.7% since January, showing that the country is well past “peak coal” and continuing the process of “decoupling” economic activity from electricity demand.

The drop comes as the rate of transformation of China’s electricity sector continues to accelerate,” IEEFA reported last week. “China produces and consumes half the world’s coal, and its production declines so far this year are double what they were over 2015.”

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While the country’s industrial production grew 5.9% from January through May, the National Bureau of Statistics said electricity demand only grew 0.9%. The result, IEEFA notes, is that coal is rapidly losing market share to hydro, natural gas, nuclear, solar, and wind generation.

Thermal coal imports were down 17% through April, according to S&P Global/Platts, although coking coal consumption grew in step with Chinese steel production.