China declares no new coal mines

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China has declared it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three years.

The country has carried out the move in a bid to cut growing stockpiles, as well as increase its alternative energy supplies.

Speaking last week, Nur Bekri, the director of China’s National Energy Administration, told a conference that “with production overcapacity expected to last for quite some time, green and low-carbon forms of energy will be the main focus of the 13th Five Year Plan (running from 2016 to 2020),” according to China Daily.

The country also plans to reduce national output by around 60 million tons in 2016, while at the same time building its nuclear energy capacity, as well as generating more than 20 MkW from wind power and 15 MkW from solar power.

Part of this plan was first launched early last year, when the National People’s Congress (NPC) outlined plans to reduce thermal coal consumption by 160 million tonnes over the next five years.

China’s ongoing pollution and smog issues were the main focus of the NPC, with Chinese president Xi Jinping stating that the government will be increasing focus on the nation’s environmental standards and regulations.

“We are going to punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy ecology or the environment,” Xi stated.

However, China is unlikely to completely cut its dependence on coal.

Coal currently accounts for 80 per cent of China’s electricity output and all leading energy forecasting agencies analysts agree that ongoing industrialisation and urbanisation will drive robust coal demand for decades to come, the Minerals Council of Australia said.

The International Energy Agency expects that coal will continue to dominate China’s energy mix to 2035, and that “China continues to import substantial amounts of coal, remaining a strong force in global coal markets”.

Wu Jiang, a Renmin University economics professor, told China Daily that coal will remain the nation’s main source of energy.

"The problem with new-energy consumption is that it's not easy to integrate it into the conventional power grid,” he added.