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Coal in China
Richard Heinberg, MuseLetter via Global Public Media
… China’s coal consumption in 2000 was 30 times its volume a half-century earlier, at the time of the establishment of the People’s Republic. And just since 2000, consumption has more than doubled.
… In short, China has encouraged rapid export-led economic growth as a way of putting off dealing with its internal political and social problems. Economic growth requires energy, and China’s energy comes overwhelmingly from coal. The nation’s short-term survival strategy thus centers on producing enormous quantities of coal today, and far more in the future.
However, there are signs that China’s domestic coal production growth may not be able to keep up with rising demand for much longer.
… China’s furious pace of economic growth, which is often touted as a sign of success, may turn out to be a fatal liability. Simply put, the nation appears to have no Plan B. No fossil fuel other than coal will be able to provide sufficient energy to sustain current economic growth rates in the years ahead, and non-fossil sources will require unprecedented and perhaps unachievable levels of investment just to make up for declines in coal production – never mind providing enough to fuel continued annual energy growth of seven to ten percent per year.
If and when China ceases to have enough new energy to support continued economic growth, there are likely to be unpleasant consequences for the nation’s stability. If such consequences are to be averted, the country’s leadership must find ways to rein in economic growth while reducing internal social and political tensions, meanwhile investing enormous sums in non-fossil energy sources. A serious attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would entail an identical prescription. It is a tall order by any standard, but serious contemplation of the alternative-which, in the worst instance, could amount to social, economic, and environmental collapse-should be bracing enough to motivate heroic efforts.
(27 June 2008)
Aluminium supply in deficit on coal shortage – UBS
The world aluminium market was heading for a 200,000-tonne deficit this year and in 2009 as coal supplies turn scarce and producers are forced to cut output, banking group UBS said on Monday.
… Due to higher coal prices the production cost of aluminium has increased, forcing smaller smelters operating at close to marginal costs to close, according to UBS.
As a measure to provide more power for civilian use, authorities in some countries have curtailed power to energy-intensive industrial users like aluminium smelters, making less aluminium available to the market.
(30 June 2008)
Scott Chisholm Lamont writes:
Peak energy leading to peak aluminum? That will make life even more difficult for the airlines.
Equipment shortage slows US coal output growth-CEO
The cost and lead time involved in acquiring new equipment are among the impediments to raising coal production in the United States, a coal company executive said on Friday.
(30 June 2008)