China’s coal burning, which more than tripled during the period from 2000-2013, may have finally peaked—and at the same time, China has been rapidly increasing its production of solar, nuclear, and wind energy. A report by economists in Nature Geoscience says that this is more than a statistical blip, but possibly a permanent downward trend in China's burning of coal.
One of the report's authors, Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics, was reported in The Guardian as saying that there are a series of deep and long-term transformations taking place in China, which means that the nation’s falling coal use is now a permanent trend. One trend is the falling rate of economic growth from about 9 or 10 percent to about 6 percent; another is the transformation of China's economy away from heavy industry and towards the much less energy hungry hi-tech and service sectors.
While the use of coal declines, the use of solar power in China is up 28 percent as of the first half of 2016, nuclear up 25 percent, and wind and hydropower both up 13 percent. But challenges remain, The Guardian notes: "China’s Renewable Industries Association says that 15 percent of the wind power produced in the country in 2015 was wasted."
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