What China is doing to prepare for its energy future

China will need a lot of energy in the medium term future. I calculated their consumption at 247 quads in 2030, up from 100 quads last year.

China is working heroically to assure supplies of oil and coal. They are eagerly awaiting completion of Mongolia’s mega-mine, Tavan Tolgoi, as Mongolia is slated to produce 240 million tons of coal a year by 2040. None of that coal is expected to sit on the shelves gathering dust. China will burn it.

China has invested $15 billion in Canadian tar sands projects, happy to snap up the oil that is too dirty for American tastes.

China currently has 14 nuclear power plants, with 27 under construction. They have plans for a further 150 plants, and intend to build about 4 a year until they get to that figure.

China has other needs than energy–fresh water being among them. So China is working to kill two birds with one stone. “China already has half the world’s large HEP dams (25,800), which produce 213 GW of power. And while the west has mostly stopped building dams—the U.S. has only produced 80 GW of HEP in its history—China is forging ahead: Along the Yangtze River and its tributaries, 100 large dams are either being planned or built, and 43 additional dams are in the works for the Lancang (the Upper Mekong), Nu, Hongshui and Jiulong Rivers in China’s southwest.”

China is planning for a big future.

7 responses to “What China is doing to prepare for its energy future

  1. The Chinese CO2 emission projections in the source for nuclear energy were pretty chilling – doubling of emissions by 2030.

    Just to offset that, US emissions should go down to 0. But then there is India and other developing nations, too.

    What I see (hopefully) for the future emissions is a more radical peak and then, a steep decline. Because China will definitely run out of coal.

    • Well, Jarmo, that’s the great thing about globalization. Indonesia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal and China is its biggest customer. Australia is right behind them. And Mongolia will be happy to get rich selling coal to China.

  2. Right next to China is Kazakhstan with 10 times more recoverable coal resources than Mongolia. 20 times if you count in just anthracite and bituminous coal.

    Russian coal exports to China, though not great, have grown tenfold in a few years.

    Nevertheless, since China’s consumption now is close to 3500 million tons with recoverable reserve life of 35 years, and world total coal exports 1100 million tons …. the writing’s on the wall.

    France built 56 nuclear reactors in 15 years… I wonder how many the Chinese would be able to build if they really went for it?

  3. Tom, I’m glad you’re putting all this together. I’ll comment now and then. You don’t seem to be getting all the activity as your climate blog did, but the comments are more worth reading.
    The role of hydroelectric in their mix and the scale of their projects is worth more discussion than it is getting. The lakes they back up will change the landscape and change the local climate more than the coal they’re burning. The change might be beneficial in the form of a longer growing season. Also, all these inland lakes could make water the dominant form of transport. Then you would finally have practical wind energy – sails.
    It’s just not China, most of Latin America is going this route.
    I wish they would go for the smaller designs, but this is still a practical move in the right direction.

    • Hi Marty

      Amazing how little ink hydro-electric gets, isn’t it? And yeah, for some reason energy isn’t as sexy as global warming. But I don’t miss the old Examiner days at all…

      Here’s a list of the impacts of dam building. Could you order them in terms of impact and maybe orient as to scale? I mean are some of these things 10 x as big as others? With 800,000 of the things, we should probably take a look…

      Energy generated by hydro electricity
      Water storage
      Recreational use
      Increased productivity of agricultural lands
      Better planning downstream
      Flood control

      Flooding of reservoir land, displacement of activities
      Energy used in dam construction
      Change in land use changes micro climate
      Change in land use changes global climate
      Reservoir changes gravitational distribution of planet

  4. Tom, me again. As to your over all blog, I’m a little skeptical about any forecast 63 years in advance. That’s my lifetime, and very few predictions made when I was a kid were realized. The rise and fall of the USSR was about 70 years, the rise and fall of the American nuclear industry was about 30, and our infatuation with large horizontal axis wind turbines won’t be much more than 15 years. A lot can happen between now and then.
    Water could be a far greater problem than energy.
    Right now, people are talking about natural gas as a bridge fuel. I see the logic of this fading fast. It’s getting opposition from quarters no one expected, like small town bankers who realize that once they start fracking, entire banks are underwater.
    The only optimistic thing that I see coming out of fracking is that it is changing the face of the environmental movement. The hippocracy of “Big Green” is being exposed by the revelation that gas companies were underwriting the cost of some their lobbying such as getting the EPA to label co2 as a pollutant thereby making natural gas a mitigating technology.

  5. Pingback: China and Coal | 3000 Quads

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