Is China Really Going Green for Keeps? Some Questions about Matthews and Hao Tan’s Analysis….

Headline Graphic: The Three Gorges Dam Spillway at Yichang, Hubei, now operating at full capacity (100 Gigawatts)

In a pair of attention-grabbing recent journal articles, two Australia-based China energy experts have proposed a pair of controversial arguments about the trend in China’s energy supply sources, one covering the immediate future, the other a longer trajectory. Both go against accepted scenarios. In the more recent of the two, it is argued that the unprecedented absolute decline in thermo-electric power (coal, oil and Natural gas) as electrical energy providers in 2014 signals the onset of a continuing unleashing from “black” (coal) energy in favor of “green” (non-fossil-fuel, renewable) sources of power for the nation’s electric energy needs, which are grouped under the heading of “Wind Water and Solar” (WWS). The other piece is still more idiosyncratic: it foresees wind power as the leading edge of this revolution and discounts nuclear energy as a much slower growing component of China’s energy future.

The first-ever absolute decline in “black” – e.g.fossil fuel – energy is not much more than 1% for/in 2014. Taken in and on its own it hardly foretokens a peeling back of China’s coal dependency – indeed it almost happened already in 2012 – as the attached Chart (below) shows.
Therm vs renewables to 2014 w labels

The “Black” View Gathers “Green” enemies and the Heightens/Accelerates the Priority of reducing the share of coal derivatives.
Since late 2012 China’s coal-intensive thermal energy [fossil fuel] resource(s) – (pulverized bituminous and lignite coal with a small addition of suboceanic oilfield natural gases, large injections of pipeline-imported or ocean-carried liquified methane-cognate gases and even some coal-derived “para-methane” (mei zhi qi) — have been pushed into smaller percentage pockets of the national electricity supply.

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