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China’s Coal Imports: Slowest Rate of Growth Since 1998



China reports electricity demand grew just 0.5% year on year (yoy) to 5,550TWh in calendar 2015, the slowest rate of growth since 1998. With a significant increase in non-thermal electricity generation (nuclear, hydro, wind and solar), coal fired power generation declined by an estimated 4% yoy and coal consumption is estimated to have fallen 5% yoy, building on the decline reported in 2014.

With declining coal consumption, China has moved to protect domestic production by cutting imports. Figures out last week confirm coal imports declined 30% yoy over January-December 2015.

“With the collapse in both Indian (down 34% yoy) and Chinese (down 35% yoy) coal imports in December 2015, the seaborne thermal coal industry is entirely beleaguered,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

“This telling import data confirms the last flicker of hope has been snuffed out, not least for Australia’s Galilee Basin. It also carries massive negative implications for Indonesia’s coal export market, given the concurrent collapse in Indian demand” he said

Within the overall Chinese electricity sector’s +0.5% growth, heavy industry’s consumption fell 1.9% over 2015. In contrast, service sector electricity consumption grew 7.5% and households’ consumption grew 5%. This illustrates the rate at which the economy continues to transition away from heavy industry.

“The decoupling of economic growth and electricity demand is a key driver of the Chinese energy transformation and is being witnessed first hand,” said Mr Buckley.

Coal consumption per kWh thermal power generated fell 1.3% yoy to 315g, maintaining a decade long improvement in average thermal power plant efficiency gains.

This data underlines a significant decline of total coal consumption in China, with IEEFA estimating a reduction of 5% yoy in volume terms, an acceleration on the 2.9% yoy decline in coal consumption reported for 2014.

The NEA confirmed the evidence that has been consistently reported over 2015 that China is successfully diversifying away from thermal power generation at a far-faster than expected rate. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear continue to gain share at coal’s expense, consistent with the trend evident since 2011.

Thermal power capacity utilisation fell by 9% yoy from 54.1% in 2014 to only 49.4% in 2015, the lowest on record and the first time utilization has fallen below 50%, as an absurd 64GW or more of effectively idle thermal power generating capacity was added.

IEEFA forecasts that China will install an additional 24 gigawatts (GW) of wind, 16GW of new hydro, 6GW of nuclear and a new record of 18GW of solar (60% utility scale, 40% distributed rooftop solar) in 2016. With the economic transition continuing, electricity demand is forecast to grow only 3-4% yoy in 2016; this 64GW of additional zero carbon electricity capacity will be more than sufficient to meet total demand growth.

As a result, the decline in China’s coal production of 2014 and 2015 is expected to continue in 2016. The China Academy of Sciences expects coal production to fall another 4% in 2016 to 3.6 billion tonnes, down from an estimated 3.76 billion tonnes in 2015.[v]

The Chinese Coal Association and National Energy Administration likewise both forecast a further decline in 2016.[vi] The third straight year of decline, again reinforcing that peak coal was passed in 2013.[vii]

Consistent with this, at the end of 2015, the head of China’s National Energy Agency made another significant announcement: China will not approve any new coal mine projects for the next three years and will close down a thousand small mines.[viii]

“The implications of these changes are huge: China’s total country emissions are on track to peak potentially a decade earlier than their official target of no later than 2030.

“This comes at the same time that America has confirmed a 10% year-on-year decline in coal consumption in 2015[ix] (and down a staggering 29.7% yoy to-date in early 2016[x]), plus a three year moratorium of new Federal coal mine leases.[xi]

“The U.S. has also announced a major new policy to end the US$30 billion taxpayer subsidisation of the U.S. coal mining sector by ending non-competitive coal lease tenders, a situation that has gone unchecked for three decades,” he said.

The transformation of the Chinese electricity market combines with significant policy momentum towards lower carbon intensive growth in America. At the same time, India is pursuing a program to install 175GW of renewable energy by 2021/22 and rapidly improve grid efficiency.

“That the three largest economies globally are all moving rapidly in concert to exceed the COP21 Paris agreement sets a very positive scene for 2016,” said Buckley.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has this week reported that China’s new investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency rose 17% yoy to a record US$110bn in 2015.[xii] This was almost double the U.S. spend of US$56 billion (itself up 8% yoy).

“The net economic and social benefit of this electricity market transformation is abundantly clear”

“The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on Saturday released new calculations that the macroeconomic impact of doubling the use of renewable energy by 2030 would lead to a 1.1% increase in global GDP. This equates to an economic boost of US$1.3 trillion,” Mr Buckley said.

“Great strides continue to be made in China in terms of growing clean energy investment and improving energy efficiency. This has significant implications for coal-fired power stations in China – in terms of utilisation rates and profitability – as well as for thermal coal miners that have made big bets based on seriously flawed projections of China’s future demand for imported coal.” Ben Caldecott, Programme Director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford

“If Australia is to navigate the rapid changes underway in the global energy sector we will need to build a net zero emissions economy. The Paris agreement, which for the first time committed all the countries in the world to ever-strengthening efforts to cut carbon pollution, built on actions already underway in the world’s biggest economies like China. China is successfully decoupling economic growth from a reliance on polluting industries. If our economy is to avoid being smashed against the rocks of stronger booming global investments in clean energy we must reorient the nation for zero-emission prosperity.” Erwin Jackson Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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