Beijing, May 14 (Reuters) – China is set to boost its coal exports, with the central government planning to import about 200 million tonnes (Mt) of coal a year to meet demand for power from renewable sources such as solar and wind, a senior government official said.
The plan to boost exports to meet rising energy demand could come as early as this year, according an official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
China is planning to increase its coal imports from its existing reserves of about 50 million tonnes in 2017, according the official, who declined to be named as the matter was confidential.
The plan is aimed at making up for a shortfall in domestic demand for coal and to meet the needs of a growing middle class.
The official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the central plan was in line with its policy to boost demand for energy.
China plans to ramp up exports of coal to meet domestic demand as the country continues to struggle with pollution and rising prices.
It is a move that would help the economy recover from a slump in the price of coal and other fossil fuels, which have plunged to near zero for the first time since the global financial crisis.
China has already been pushing to boost the coal exports as a way to help offset a plunge in its coal consumption that has seen the price fall by more than half in less than two years.
The plans are part of Beijing’s plan to ease the burden of pollution on the country by ramping up its renewable energy sources, which account for around 40 percent of its energy mix, as the government struggles to meet its energy needs.