A Breakdown Of Energy Use & Production In China (Now, & In The Future)

China is currently one of the leading energy consumers and producers in the world.

In this guide we look at how much energy China uses and produces, how they use and produce energy, and look at where energy trends might be going in the future.

 

Summary – Energy Use & Production In China

China is currently the country that uses and produces the most energy in the world

Some available data indicates that China is producing enough electrical energy to complete supply it’s own electrical energy consumption needs

China’s primary energy source right now is coal (In 2016, coal made up 62 percent of China’s energy use), and according to some estimates, installed capacity of coal is not expected to peak until 2025 [this is in comparison to the US which gets most of it’s energy – over 50% – from natural gas and oil]

China is making some attempt to make natural gas and renewables a bigger % of their energy mix – they have been investing heavily in renewables specifically

In 2015, most of China’s energy and coal use came from the industrial sector, with 67.9 percent of the country’s energy use and 54.2 percent of its coal use due to manufacturing, agriculture, and construction.

An additional 41.8 percent of China’s coal consumption came from power production activities.

In the industrial sector, six industries – electricity generation, steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, oil processing and chemicals – account for nearly 70% of energy use.

Interestingly, China has a far lower per capita electricity energy usage of 3,995 kWh per person compared to the US at 11,927 kWh per person 

Coal is by far the leading energy source for installed capacity, but forecasts indicate that by 2040, renewables and cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind will dramatically increase in installed capacity. Gas and nuclear are also projected also increase

Even though natural gas, renewables and other energy sources could increase as a % of the energy mix, absolute coal consumption could still increase in the future in China

China may have some challenges and difficulties transitioning from coal in the future

China also has the challenge in the future of turning installed renewable energy capacity into power that is actually being used in the power grid for electricity

 

*Note that installed capacity doesn’t mean the energy is always being used – there has to be a reliable way to transfer/transmit the energy into an electricity grid via infrastructure like lines, converters, and so on.

 

How Much Energy China Uses/Consumes

  • The total consumption of energy in China is 5,564.00 billion kWh of electric energy per year.
  • Per capita this is an average of 3,995 kWh

– worlddata.info

You can find a total overview of energy consumption in China in this wordldata.info resource 

 

  • In 2013, China’s total annual electricity output was 5.398 trillion kWh and the annual consumption was 5.380 trillion kWh with an installed capacity of 1247 GW (all the largest in the world).

– wikipedia.org

 

Energy Use By Sector In China

The industrial sector – specifically electricity generation, steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, oil processing and chemicals – uses the most energy in China:

 

  • In 2015, most of China’s energy and coal use came from the industrial sector, with 67.9 percent of the country’s energy use and 54.2 percent of its coal use due to manufacturing, agriculture, and construction.
  • An additional 41.8 percent of China’s coal consumption came from power production activities.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

  • In the industrial sector, six industries – electricity generation, steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, oil processing and chemicals – account for nearly 70% of energy use.
  • In the construction materials sector, China produced about 44% of the world’s cement in 2006. Cement production produces more carbon emissions than any other industrial process, accounting for around 4% of global carbon emissions.

– wikipedia.org

 

How Much Energy China Produces

The latest data on energy production in China indicates that China produces enough electricity to completely provide for its own needs:

  • China produces 5,883 bn kWh from electric energy producing facilities, compared to it’s consumption of 5,564.00 billion kWh

– worlddata.info

 

  • China had an energy production of 25,690 TWh in 2010.

– wikipedia.org

 

Energy Reserves & Production By Energy Sources In China

  • Coal – … China held an estimated 126 billion short tons of proved recoverable coal reserves in 2011, the third largest in the world behind the United States and Russia, and equivalent to about 13% of the world’s total coal reserves.
  • Coal production rose 9% in 2013 from 2012 to nearly 4.4 billion short tons
  • Oil – In 2014, China produced nearly 4.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of petroleum and other liquids, of which 92% was crude oil and the remainder was non­refining liquids and refining gain. … In the medium and long term, EIA predicts China’s oil production will grow incrementally to 5.1 million bbl/d by 2020, 5.5 million bbl/d by 2030, and 5.7 million bbl/d by 2040.
  • Natural Gas – Although natural gas production and use is rapidly increasing in China, the fuel comprised only 5% of the country’s total primary energy consumption in 2012. 
  • China held 164 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proved natural gas reserves in January 2015. 

– energy.gov

 

  • Coal – In 2009, China’s coal supply was 18,449 TWh which was 47% of the world coal supply. 
  • In 2015, China produced 3,527 Mt, Net imported 199 Mt, and had 3,726 Mt net coal available.
  • Oil/Petroleum – China’s oil supply was 4,855 TWh in 2009 which represented 10% of the world’s supply.
  • Natural Gas – China’s natural gas supply was 1,015 TWh in 2009 that was 3% of the world supply.

– wikipedia.org

 

Most Common Energy Sources In China

Coal is clearly the major energy source currently used in China:

 

  • Over the last half century, China’s large manufacturing-based economy has primarily been fueled by coal.
  • From 1990 to 2015, China increased its coal consumption from 1.05 billion tons to 3.97 billion tons.
  • In 2016, coal made up 62 percent of China’s energy use.
  • Since 2011, China has consumed more coal than the rest of the world combined.
  • In 2017, China consumed 240.4 billion-meter cubic meters of natural gas, making up 6.4 percent of China’s total energy consumption.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

In 2012:

  • Coal supplied the majority (nearly 66%) of China’s total energy consumption in 2012.
  • The second ­largest source was petroleum and other liquids, accounting for nearly 20% of the country’s total energy consumption.
  • Although China has made an effort to diversify its energy supplies, hydroelectric sources (8%), natural gas (5%), nuclear power (nearly 1%), and other renewables (more than 1%) accounted for relatively small shares of China’s energy consumption.

– energy.gov

 

  • Roughly 72 percent of the electrical power generated in China in 2015 came from coal-powered plants
  • China’s electricity generated by wind power accounted for just 2.1 percent of its total consumption in 2012
  • As of July 2018, China operated 41 nuclear power reactors, which generated 38,419 (MW) of energy.
  • China’s electricity generated by wind power accounted for just 2.1 percent of its total consumption in 2012

– chinapower.csis.org

 

China’s Installed Energy Capacity

Coal by far has the most significant installed capacity right now, but renewables are expected to grow significantly in the future, along with some growth in gas and nuclear too.

 

In 2016, the installed capacity by technology of each energy source in China in Gigawatts was:

  • Coal – 945GW
  • Gas – 67GW
  • Oil – 9GW
  • Nuclear – 34GW
  • Hydro – 332GW
  • Bioenergy – 12GW
  • Wind – 149GW
  • Solar – 77GW

– iea.org

 

In 2040, the installed capacity by technology of each energy source in China in Gigawatts is forecast to be:

  • Coal – 1087GW
  • Gas – 219GW
  • Nuclear – 145GW
  • Hydro – 493GW
  • Bioenergy – 49GW
  • Wind – 593GW
  • Solar – 738GW
  • Oil – 0GW

– iea.org

 

Forecasts For China’s Energy Future

China’s investment in installed renewable energy capacity means that some forecasts project renewable energy as a % of China’s energy mix to grow significantly, even if absolute coal use increases:

 

  • The Chinese government plans to cap coal use to 62% of total primary energy consumption by 2020 …
  • The Chinese government set a target to raise non ­fossil fuel energy consumption to 15% of the energy mix by 2020 and to 20% by 2030 in an effort to ease the country’s dependence on coal.
  • In addition, China is currently increasing its use of natural gas to replace some coal and oil as a cleaner burning fossil fuel and plans to use natural gas for 10% of its energy consumption by 2020.
  • … higher energy efficiency and China’s goal to increase environmental sustainability are likely to lead to a decrease in coal’s share [in China’s energy mix]
  • [But, absolute coal consumption will still increase]

– energy.gov

 

  • Over the last decade, China’s investment in renewable energy and natural gas has surged.
  • In 2017, almost half of global renewable energy investment came from China, totaling $125.9 billion. This is more than double the $53.3 billion that China invested in renewables in 2013.
  • China is becoming the largest market in the world for renewable energy. It is estimated that 1 in every 4 gigawatts of global renewable energy will be generated by China through 2040.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

China’s Electricity Supply Sector Breakdown

You can read more about China’s electricity sector and breakdowns by electricity energy sources in this Wikipedia resource.

 

Renewable Energy Production & Consumption In China

  • China is the world’s largest renewable energy producer. 
  • China is the largest producer of hydroelectricity, solar power and wind power in the world.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Hydroelectric – Hydroelectric power has become China’s main source of renewable energy production. [The Three Gorges Dam … is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world]
  • Including the Three Gorges Dam, China has constructed 4 of the top 10 largest energy-producing hydroelectric dams in the world …
  • Solar & Wind – Over the past decade China has also emerged as a global leader in wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy.
  • By 2015, China accounted for one-third of global wind-energy capacity … 
  • China is now home to two-thirds of the world’s solar-production capacity …
  • How much the solar market in China can grow is in dispute due to an over-saturated domestic market, and the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China

– chinapower.csis.org

 

The Wikipedia resources in the list below have some more information on renewable energy shares as a % of energy mix.

 

Sources

1. https://www.iea.org/weo/china/

2. https://china.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/misc/ced-9-2017-final.pdf

3. https://www.worlddata.info/asia/china/energy-consumption.php

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_China

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_policy_of_China

6. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/04/f30/China_International_Analysis_US.pdf

7. https://chinapower.csis.org/energy-footprint/

8. https://www.understandchinaenergy.org/

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