China will reduce the amount of coal burned directly in industrial furnaces and residential heating systems in order to tackle a major source of smog, the country’s energy regulator said on Wednesday.
The National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a joint announcement with other government bodies that around 700 million to 800 million tonnes of coal is burned directly in China every year, much of it in the countryside, where access to electricity is limited.
Directly burned coal amounts to about 20 percent of China’s total coal consumption volume, much higher than the 5 percent rate in Europe and the United States.
China will aim to replace direct burning with electricity, including renewable power as well as ultra-low emission coal-fired generators, the NEA said.
China currently relies on coal for around 64 percent of its total primary energy needs and for three-quarters of its total power generation. Emissions from the direct combustion of coal are around five times higher than those from coal-fired power plants, which are subject to strict anti-pollution regulations.
During the 2016-2020 period, China plans to raise electricity’s share of the country’s overall energy mix to 27 percent, up about 1.5 percentage points from now and raising total power consumption by around 450 billion kilowatt-hours a year, the NEA said.
Experts have estimated that China will need an additional 600 GW of coal-fired power capacity over the 2015-2030 period in order to replace direct coal combustion.