China's Strengthening of Energy Security under the Recent Geopolitical Conditions
war in Ukraine has caused major disturbances in the world. In addition to the
ongoing war itself, the global energy market and food market are greatly
affected. In particular, the huge adjustment of the global energy market has
further exacerbated the pressure on countries to maintain energy security.
such a situation, countries are attempting to locate means of managing the pressure
of energy security, and some are seeking alternative sources of energy supply.
For instance, certain European nations have increased the import of oil and gas
from the Middle East to replace or reduce energy imports from Russia. On the
other hand, some other countries have extended the withdrawal time of nuclear
power plants, or simply suspend their withdrawal from nuclear power. There are
also countries that have slowed down the pace of transition from coal power
generation and upgraded clean coal utilization technologies to ease the
pressure on energy utilization.
terms of clean coal technology and the introduction of relevant policy support,
Japan's experience is one that other countries can learn from.
coal technology (CCT) is a general term for a series of technologies for clean
and efficient utilization of coal, including the whole process of coal mining and
its utilization. This encompasses coal washing, processing, upgrading,
combustion, transformation, flue gas purification, and other pollutant control
early as 1980, Japan established the New Energy and Industrial Technology
Development Organization (NEDO) to engage in the research and development of
clean coal and new energy technologies. In 1992, NEDO's Coal Technology
Development Office reorganized into Clean Coal Technology Center (CCTC). Japan's
scientific research investment in the field of clean coal enjoys outstanding
achievements, where its technology ranks among the top in the world.
1999, the Japanese government formulated a strategic plan for the clean and
efficient utilization of coal in the 21st century. It proposes to develop clean
coal technology in three stages around 2030, and finally achieve zero emissions
from coal utilization. In 2008, the Japanese government launched another
project called "Cool Earth-Innovative Energy Technology Program", selecting
21 priority energy technologies. These include advanced ultra-supercritical
pressure power generation (A-USC), Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle
(IGCC), and Integrated Coal Gasification Fuel Cell Combined Cycle (IGFC).
2014, the Japanese cabinet passed the new "Basic Energy Plan", which
established the important position of coal power as a crucial "baseload
power source", and further clarified the strategic policy of promoting the
clean utilization of coal and high-efficiency power generation. The plan
pointed out that although it produces a larger amount of greenhouse gas
emissions, coal has the lowest geopolitical risk and the lowest cost per
thermal unit among fossil fuels, making it an "important baseload power source
fuel that is economical and has a stable supply". This plan also proposes to
strengthen the research and development of IGCC technology, improve the
efficiency of coal power generation, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions
per unit of power generation through the transformation of old power plants and
the promotion of the latest power generation technologies during the
construction of new power plants.
development of clean coal technology not only will improve energy utilization
efficiency and energy ownership, but also help to reduce carbon emissions and boost
the standard of green development. Currently, power generation contributes the
most to Japan's greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 40%. Thermal power
generation accounts for nearly 90% of Japan's power sources, and there is
considerable pressure to achieve coal emission reduction. In order to achieve
the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30% after 10 years, in June 2015,
Japan established the "Council for Promoting the Early Achievement of
Next-Generation Thermal Power Generation" composed of members from government,
industry, and academia, with the aim to promote the development of the next
generation of clean and efficient utilization of thermal power generation
the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced its technical roadmap.
According to this roadmap, Japan would master the IGCC technology in early
2020, which can convert coal as a whole into gas for combustion, thereby
reducing carbon emissions by about 20%. It also targets to master IGFC
technology in 2025, allowing the country to utilize hydrogen-element in coal
for fuel cell power generation, with the objective of reducing carbon emissions
by about 30%.
order to support the development of clean coal technology, Japan has introduced
a number of preferential policies. The government provides support for related
scientific research, and the approval of coal-fired power stations is loosened
through the power liberalization policy. In addition, Japan also provides
low-cost financing support for thermal power projects both within the country
as well as abroad through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
This is to promote Japanese coal power equipment companies and the projects of efficient
utilization of clean coal to go global.
on the other hand, is a major energy-consuming country in the world, and its
energy consumption is dominated by coal. In 2020, China's coal consumption
accounts for 56.8% of total energy consumption. Its oil and natural gas mainly
rely on imports, accounting for 73% and 45% respectively. Some market
institutions predict that affected by the war in Ukraine, China's annual oil
import expenditure may increase by more than USD 100 billion under the backdrop
of the continuous high international oil price throughout the year and the
average price of Brent crude oil exceeding USD 100 per barrel. It will be
undoubtedly strategically significant if China can develop its own clean coal
utilization technology and improve energy efficiency.
early as 2011, researchers at ANBOUND proposed that in order to alleviate the
pressure on energy security in China, in addition to searching for a stable
energy supply, it was also necessary to improve the efficiency of existing
energy utilization. If China adopts appropriate technology to improve energy
efficiency, there will be huge room for energy saving. ANBOUND researchers'
calculations show that if China's energy consumption falls to the world
average, the energy consumption of USD 1 GDP needs to drop by 0.14 kilograms of
oil equivalent. According to the country's total economic output and energy
consumption level in 2009, if its energy utilization effect reaches the world
average level, it is equivalent to saving USD 460 billion, or about RMB 3
trillion. Since then, our calculations have shown that when the energy
utilization efficiency reaches the world average level, it is estimated that in
2020, China can consume 1.66 billion tons of standard coal less, and the
corresponding reduction in carbon emissions will reach 1.25 billion tons,
accounting for about 1.25 billion tons, or about 12.7% of the country's total
considerable room for improvement will come from China's adoption of
appropriate clean energy utilization technologies to improve energy utilization
efficiency, reduce total energy consumption, and promote the green development
of its economy.
the Chinese government has already given policy attention and support to clean
energy utilization technologies including coal. In November 2021, the executive
meeting of the State Council announced that on the basis of the previous
establishment of carbon emission reduction financial support tools, an
additional RMB 200 billion will be set up to support the clean and efficient
use of coal. This amount of special re-loan, based on the operable requirements
and market-oriented principles, specifically supports safe, efficient, green,
and smart coal mining. It will also promote clean and efficient coal
processing, utilization, industrial combustion, and heating, in addition to the
comprehensive utilization of coal resources and the development of coalbed
methane. The specific method is that banks of the country independently issue
preferential loans to projects that meet the standards within the scope of
support, and the interest rate will be roughly the same as the market quoted one
for loans of the same term and grade.
at ANBOUND believe that under the current geopolitical conditions, China needs
to adjust and optimize energy utilization policies, develop clean coal
technology, encourage coal-hydrogen linkage production, and relax coal-fired
power generation. All in all, this is closely related to the country's national
safety production. Following its financial incentive policy at the end of 2021,
China needs to stimulate scientific and technological investment, as well as
its production investment in the utilization of clean energy. This means that the
Chinese authority has to consider the development of the energy industry in a
safe direction so as to resolve the problem of energy security.
should be noted that the country's energy supply should be seen as a whole, hence
the issue cannot be viewed merely from a single category. This is true whether
it is natural gas, oil, coal, wind energy, hydropower, and others. To solve
China's energy supply, utilization, and security issues, it would be necessary
to look at the energy concern from a more holistic and systematic perspective and
maintain balanced energy utilization.
the current geopolitical conditions, China needs to adjust and optimize its energy
utilization policies. Foreign experiences can serve as a referential example
for it to develop its clean coal technology. It should also promote
coal-hydrogen linkage production, and relax coal-fired power generation. These
measures, as things stand, are necessary steps to be taken in the country's
national security production.