China's coal demand to peak around 2025, global usage to follow

As a state-owned think tank said in a new report, China's coal demand will start to fall in 2025 once consumption at utilities and other industrial sectors reaches its peak. The world's biggest coal consumer is expected to see total consumption fall 18% from 2018 to 2035, and by 39% from 2018 to 2050, the CNPC Economics and Technology Research Institute, run by the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), forecast in a report on Thursday.

Though the share of coal in the country's total energy mix fell to 59% last year from 68.5% in 2012, overall consumption in 2018 rose 3% from a year earlier to 3.82 billion tonnes, official data showed. Analysts said they expected the total share of coal to drop to 40.5% by 2035 as renewable, nuclear and natural gas capacity continues to increase rapidly: "With coal demand in China falling gradually, world coal consumption is forecast to reach a peak within 10 years. China's coal demand, currently accounting for half of the world's total, will decline to around 35% by 2050".

Cutting coal consumption and replacing it with cleaner energy like natural gas and renewables has been a key part of China's energy strategy, but it has continued to approve new mines and coal-fired power plants and support new projects overseas.

Still, China, as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has promised to show "the highest possible ambition" when it renews its climate pledges next year, and its energy policies have come under increasing scrutiny ahead of a major United Nations climate change conference in September.