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China’s Coal Production Falls 3.5% To 3.68b Tonnes: Reaction



China’s coal imports are a their slowest rate of growth since 1998. At the beginning of January China declared no new coal mines for the next three years. And China’s coal production has fallen by 3.5%. This is the reaction to the latest news.

Luke Sussams, senior researcher at the Carbon Tracker Initiative said: “Carbon Tracker’s latest analysis concluded that no new coal mines are needed in the next decade globally to stay within 2C of global warming. China has aligned with this trajectory, recently ruling out any new mines for the next three years. China’s economic growth is slowing faster than many expected, which today’s official statistics show has profound effects on energy and electricity demand, as highlighted in our ‘Lost in Transition’ report published late last year.

“China is demonstrating that it is possible for even the largest nations to rapidly shift their economies within climate and environmental limits under the right conditions – this should serve as a model for all developing countries attempting to grow their economies whilst remaining within the climate trajectory enshrined at COP21.”

LI Junfeng, Director General, National Climate Change Strategy Research and International Cooperation Center, said: “A few other figures coming from today’s announcement and recent news is sending the strong signal that the clear acceleration of China’s energy transition while the economy is declining. For example, last year, power generation dropped 0.2%, the first time negative growth in the last half century, and the power consumption only grew 0.5%.

“Meanwhile, non-fossil power generation increased more than 20%, among which hydro, wind, nuclear, solar take account 71%, 14%,12%, 3% respectively. It means that thermal power generation dropped more than 4%, which indicates that non-fossil energy would not only meet the additional demand, but also the existing demand. I think thermal power generation will continue to drop with an annual speed of 2-4% and the non-fossil power generation will stay in a high growth rate of 20%.

“Coal production and consumption has entered into a turning point since 2014. Even if it bounces back in the future, it would not be big bounce. Declining is the long term trend. Coal power capacity will be more of a peak adjustment to allow more non-fossil power capacity’s operation. Global carbon emission in 2015 may reach zero or even negative growth in 2015 due to this mild growth of China’s energy consumption. This trend may continue for 3-5 years or even longer.”

WANG Tao, Assistant Director, China Business News Research Institute, said: “From the data released today by China’s national statistics authority, we could see that China’s economy is still in the process of transition, the New Normal is yet a norm. The figure of energy consumption only grew 0.9% in 2015, the lowest ever growth rate since 1998, just like the GDP rate.

“The transition of economic structure also was also reflected on the power generation and consumption data. The power generation dropped 0.2% in 2015, comparing to 3.2% increase in the last year. Within, the consumption from the industrial sector continue declining, when service and residence sector’s consumption keep growing. The signal is transition is clear.

“From the energy structure, coal’s proportion continue dropping since its first drop since 2014. The amount of thermal power decreased 2.8% in 2015, it not only indicates the overall weak demand, but also the growing percentage of non-fossil fuel power generation.”

Alvin Lin, China Climate and Energy Policy Project Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, said; “The 3.5 percent drop in 2015 for China’s coal production, 2.8 percent drop in thermal (primarily coal) power production, and similar decreases in coal-intensive heavy industry production such as iron and steel and cement show that China’s economy and energy structure is moving decisively towards less coal-intensive forms of economic activity and production. Renewables investment in China last year, $110 billion, was at an all time high, and clean energy is steadily replacing coal fired power in the generation mix. With continuing efforts to reduce air pollution and climate emissions, 2016 is likely to be another crucial year for China in its efforts to cap coal consumption and rebalance its economy toward a more sustainable track.”

Anders Hove, Associate Director of Research, Paulson Institute, said: “The fact that coal capacity and investment in new coal capacity all grew strongly appears to be an issue worth drawing more attention to. Thermal generation grew 7.8% and investment in thermal power rose 22%. While the argument can be made that new coal plants are needed in some places, and are cleaner than old ones being retired, some of these investments have the potential to become “stranded assets”—namely, investments that have to be closed down prematurely—under scenarios where China’s coal use peaks early. Some observers, including the International Energy Agency, believe China coal use has already peaked.

“Operating hours at coal plants fell 10% in 2015, indicating that over-investment in new coal plants is hurting industry bottom lines. The coal power industry faces a dilemma, where each new plant brought online in a stagnant demand environment hurts the returns of the existing fleet, but not bringing new plants online leads to falling market share and revenue for individual companies, most of which are state-owned. As Greenpeace noted last fall, 2015 seems to have seen a rush of new approvals for coal plants that is out of step with efforts to cap coal consumption in certain regions.

“Climate Policy Initiative, in an excellent paper released in December, showed that such approvals appear to result from the skewed incentives in the power system, which favor builders of new coal plants (generally all large state owned enterprises) with advantageous contracts, and thereby crowd out renewable energy. Notwithstanding new investment in grid infrastructure, without addressing current over-investment in coal plants and reforming the compensation structure for coal plants, China cannot achieve its policy objectives with respect to clean energy—as the Paulson Institute discussed in a power sector paper published last September. Recent power reform documents underlined this fact by laying out a potential “black list” for companies or banks that build or finance coal plants that are out of step with policies to curb coal consumption.”

Ben Caldecott, Programme Director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, 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 on seriously flawed projections of China’s future demand for imported coal.”

Lauri Myllyvirta, Energy Desk, GREENPEACE, added: “The growth of power generation from non-fossil sources in China in the past few years is the largest deployment of renewable energy in history, for any country. This has enabled China to cover a 20% increase in power demand from 2011 to 2015 by clean energy while reducing coal use in the power sector, an astounding achievement. Going forward, as deployment of renewable energy accelerates and power demand growth slows, the fall in power sector coal demand will be much faster. Changing economic structure means that coal burning in key heavy industry sectors will also fall. This is an unprecedented opportunity for peaking global coal use and CO2 emissions.”


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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