China Coal Crises and Its Impact on the Global Energy Crises

Written By Bradley Fowler, MA, MS, MPP, MMIS

China is facing an energy crisis and its ability to effectively manage its reliance on coal as an energy source. Research conveys that China’s government is rationing the usage of electricity in 17 of its 30 mainlands and because, China is under pressure to align its efforts with the Paris Agreement, China is forced to increase reliance on external coal manufacturers who can deliver the resources needed to help China sustain during the winter months. Currently, China utilizes 70% coal to heat the nation. Yet the supply chain isn’t meeting the demands necessary for the country to efficiently provide adequate energy to all citizens. Thus, it is imperative efforts be assessed to increase China’s ability to achieve its long-term goal of providing an adequate source of energy for citizens, without increasing cost to either government or citizens.

In fact, due to the rising cost of coal, China is being forced to reduce the amount of energy citizens utilize. Research conveys that electricity usage has been reduced to 3 days out of every 10 days. This is forcing citizens to reduce their reliance on electricity and cut their time-line of working in offices. “Industries like textiles and plastics have been hit the hardest, as they require the most energy and need the strictest power rationing” (McConnell, 2021).

COVID-19 was a major contributor to the increased usage of electricity because citizens were forced to stay home, resulting in them using more of their own in-house electricity. That increase of electricity usage impacts the Chinese government financially because the cost of coal has increased. In fact, thermal coal has tripled in cost. This increase of cost falls back onto citizens who are faced with higher electricity bills. And since, China has a cap on the cost of electricity utilities, the coming winter months are going to be trying for many China citizens.

Perhaps, relying on the Paris Agreement, will help China find resolutions that decrease these concerns and increase electricity efficiency in the coming years. After all, the Paris Agreement “works on a 5-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries” (United Nations Climate Change, 2021). Furthermore, the Paris Agreement focuses on limiting global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels” (United National Climate Change, 2021). Most importantly, the Paris Agreement engulfs all nations with a common goal of undertaking ambitious efforts to defeat climate change and adapt with any impact it brings. Enacted in December 2015 and adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21. The Paris Agreement requires both economic and social transformation to be defined by the best science. Under this agreement,
countries are required to submit their national determined contributions, which requires countries to convey mitigation strategies to be deployed to lower Greenhouse Gas emissions to align with the Paris Agreement. Countries are also required to communicate strategies they will deploy to develop resilience to adapt with impacts of rising temperatures. Countries are also required to share resources and ideology to help one another achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

China may have its idiosyncrasies about partnering with other countries to acquire resources to help ease the cost. But the Paris Agreement is a dynamic approach to enable, China to decrease future reliance on increased cost of thermal coal to heat up the nation. In fact, Germany has begun to phase out its old oil-fired heating systems, which are 20 years old,
and are replacing them with climate friendly alternatives i.e., electric heat pumps and solar heat in combination with gas.

In 2018, “renewable energies-with a share of 47.2 percent-for the first time overtook gas as the primary source of heating in new residential buildings finished that year. But both now and in the future, old buildings will dominate the share of heated area in Germany, making them an inescapable part of the so-called “Warmewende”, transition in heating” (Eriksen, 2020). In addition, geothermal energy and solar heat, also contribute a small share of heating Germany homes. Thus, China needs to update its approach with current trends in providing citizens access to modernized heating products and services.

In fact, additional research on other countries and efforts deployed to provide citizens modernized energy services and products, convey that solar energy usage is on the rise. In the United States solar energy is being utilized for space and water heating as well as electricity generation. “Approximately 11% of all U.S. homes in 2015 had geothermal heat pump heating and cooling systems. The number of homes with small-scale solar photovoltaic systems has increased substantially in recent years” (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2021).

Countries on the rise for the most usage of solar PV systems, include India, Japan, and Vietnam. China is recorded for being a pioneer of installing solar panels, but the deployment of reliance upon these panels isn’t keeping up with the current trends in energy usage and consumption in the country. Thus, China needs to reeducate its citizens on the value of redirecting focus on energy consumption for personal usage i.e., computers, electronic games, and appliances that require high volume of electricity. As well as learn how to
reduce unnecessary usage of electricity and return to the consumption usage of batteries. At least, until an increase of solar panels can be installed and relied upon as a primary energy source. However, to keep warm through the winter of 2021, China citizens may need to purchase an increased volume of warm blankets, fleece pajamas, and scented candles.

References

 

Expert, S. (2021). China’s Energy Crisis Threatens Global Supply Chain. Retrieved from: https://www.siliconexpert.com/blog/china-energy-crisis/

McConnell, R. (2021). China’s Energy Problem and Its Effect on the Global Economy. Retrieved from: https://psuvanguard.com/chinas-energy-problem-and-its-effects-on-the-global-economy/

United Nations Climate Change. (2021). The Paris Agreement. Retrieved from: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

Eriksen, F. (2020). Heating 40 million Homes-The Hurdles to Phasing Out Fossil Fuels in German Basements. Retrieved from: https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/heating-40-million-homes-hurdles-phasing-out-fossil-fuels-german-basements

United States Energy Information Administration (2021). Use of Energy Explained. Retrieved from: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/use-of-energy/homes.php