Wood Mackenzie's estimates of Chinese coal demand have historically been higher than the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published data. Recently, the NBS has materially revised historical coal consumption in the China Energy Statistics Yearbook for 2014, bringing levels close to Wood Mackenzie's view of actual demand.
Coal demand has been revised upwards by around 300 Mt on average from 2005 to 2012. Revisions have been made to five key areas, with large changes for 2012 including: industrial final consumption (+283 Mt), coal washing (+155 Mt), thermal coal generation (+50 Mt), heating supply (+35 Mt) and coking coal (+27 Mt). To provide some context, the 630 Mt discrepancy in 2012 is equivalent to 80% of thermal power demand in North America.
For the period 2005 to 2012, we have consistently reported higher rates of coal consumption in China than the NBS. We take a bottom-up approach to coal consumption analysis. Our analysts break down coal demand on a sector by sector basis, focusing on: power, heating, cement, metallurgical coke, coal conversion and residential & commercial. Only after we have analysed the demand do we then build up coal supply.
The NBS bases their coal consumption statistics on reported supply (production, imports, and exports) and then derives demand. This approach fails to account for crucial factors such as private and illegal production, which has ranged from 200 Mt to 600Mt per annum. As a result, official statistics have consistently under-reported demand, and probably emissions too.
The data revision comes just ahead of the UN's COP 21 climate talks in Paris and could result in creating more achievable future emissions targets, however it is more likely an improvement to the collection and auditing of coal statistics, targeting more accurate data to inform the 13th Five Year Plan.
Find out more about the NBS coal consumption revisions and access the source data.
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