It’s worth another look, especially as the DOE EIA has published a new country analysis on China and energy.
Shall we start with the good news? “China’s government plans to boost nuclear capacity to at least 70 GW by 2020. As of mid-2012, China had 15 operating reactors and 30 reactors with over 33 GW of capacity under construction, about half of the global nuclear power capacity being built.”
Or the bad news? “Coal supplied the vast majority (70 percent) of China’s total energy consumption of 90 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2009. Oil is the second-largest source, accounting for 19 percent of the country’s total energy consumption.”
Is there hope? “The Chinese government set a target to raise non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 11.4 percent of the energy mix by 2015 as part of its new 12th Five Year Plan.”
Or despair? “In 2011, China consumed an estimated 4 billion short tons of coal, representing about half of the world total. Coal consumption is about 3 times higher than it was in 2000, reversing the decline seen from 1996 to 2000.”
In 2009 China consumed 96.9 quads. In 2012 their total is estimated to reach 110.7. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 4.54%. That’s twice as fast as the DOE has predicted going forward.
I’ll remind readers that my estimate for energy consumption in 2035 for China is 247 quads–more than twice what the DOE estimates. Recent growth supports my higher estimates.
Even if China succeeds in building the 150 nuclear plants they aspire to over the next 50 years, they will still be burning more coal in 2035 than the entire world burns now.
The Chinese economy, as I predicted, will start to struggle and even sputter at times between now and then. But if the history of other developing countries is any example, that won’t affect energy consumption nearly as much as one might think. In the United States, that Great Depression? Didn’t affect our energy consumption curve.
That’s a lot of coal.