China's energy sector is entering an era of dramatic transformation. To fulfil its pledge of raising non-fossil fuel shares in the primary energy mix, China continues to support development of renewables. But it is set to be a bumpy journey – slowing demand growth, infrastructure constraints, a shrinking subsidy pool and coal-favouring protectionist measures are seriously curtailing renewable generation. These uncertainties are adding risk not only to the future of renewables, but also the coal demand outlook. In this Insight we evaluate some of the key challenges and explore the potential impact on coal demand under two best-case scenarios.