Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Indonesia’s coal consumption remains high: BP
The BP Statistical Review 2016 revealed on Wednesday that Indonesia’s coal consumption had doubled since 2010. Last year, coal became the country’s dominant source of fuel, accounting for 41 percent of total energy consumption.
“Last year, Indonesia’s exports for coal fell sharply. The reason was because the global demand decreased at that time, during which China, one of the country’s key markets for coal exports, cut its use of coal,” Dale said.
He added that over the past 10 years, growth in global coal demand had been driven by China. However, China’s economy has shifted away from coal to using cleaner, lower carbon fuel sources such as renewable energy and natural gas.
Studies show coal consumption remains popular in Indonesia despite its damaging environmental impacts. The government has committed to an ambitious 35,000 megawatt electricity program, in which coal-fueled power plants will still make up the majority of electricity generation, at around 50 percent. (win/ebf)
Its worth noting that a lot of that “cleaner” Chinese fuel comes from coal gasification – a carbon intensive process which literally discards half the coal as waste CO2 before the generated gas gets anywhere near a power plant, using variations of the following reaction.
2H2O (water) + 2C (coal) -> CH4 (methane) + CO2
China to Build 50 Coal Gasification Facilities
China plans to build 50 coal gasification plants in less populated northwestern parts of the country, using the gas produced to generate electricity in the more populated areas, where smog is prevalent. Two coal gasification pilot plants have been built, three more are under construction, and 16 have been approved for construction, while the rest are in various planning stages. Eighty percent of the 50 plants are to be located in northwest China, in the provinces or regions of Xinjiang, western Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Gansu. [i]
These plants are part of China’s plan to alleviate air pollution in its smoggiest cities by reducing coal use in these areas by 2017, instead using gas from coal produced miles away. According to the Chinese state-owned power companies, these plants are considered “clean energy” or “new energy.” To achieve cleaner air in the cities through gasification, net carbon dioxide emissions will increase, while water scarcity may result from a gasification process that uses a great deal of water.
In coal gasification, a technology that has been around for decades, coal is chemically transformed into synthetic natural gas (SNG). China, with its vast coal resources, is using SNG for power generation and to reduce its dependency on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). China’s National Energy Administration plans to produce 50 billion cubic meters of gas from coal by 2020, enough to satisfy more than 10 percent of China’s total gas demand. It not only makes economic sense – it also allows China to exploit its coal deposits that are located thousands of miles from the country’s main industrial centers and to solve local pollution problems.[ii] In addition, transporting the natural gas to demand centers is cheaper than transporting the coal and using it directly.
Of course China hasn’t given up on coal – as WUWT recently reported, on the first day of the Marrakesh COP22 Conference, the Chinese Government announced a three year programme to increase coal capacity by 20%, an entire Canada worth of coal output.
Click here to see the BP Statistical Review 2016 (page 33 details the rise of Indonesian coal consumption).
Lets not forget that China is now hailed as the moral leader of the climate movement.