More on China’s Energy Consumption (Not that I’m obsessed or anything…)

I finally got a look at BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, which has actually been out since June.

There’s a lot in there. BP notes that the growth in world energy consumption fell to 2.5% in 2011, compared to 5.1% in 2010. They also note that 71% of the growth in energy consumption was in China.

Worldwide use of coal increased by 5.4% in 2011. China’s use of coal grew by 9.7%. China dug out half (49.5%) of all the coal used last year.

They also imported a lot. 185 million tons last year. That’s projected to rise to 1 billion tons by 2030. That’s a lot of coal.

But it’s not all dark news–“China consumed 615.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity generated by clean energy sources in the first eight months of the year, Shanghai Daily reported, citing the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. The figure took up 19.3 percent of domestic total on-grid power during the period, up 1.1 percentage points annually, the commission said. Electricity produced from hydropower, wind power and nuclear power rose 20.6 percent, 32.4 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, to 489 billion kWh, 63.5 billion kWh and 63.3 billion kWh in the eight months.”

29 responses to “More on China’s Energy Consumption (Not that I’m obsessed or anything…)

  1. An aside about coal: how much coal is there that is today considered unaccessible and not included in the reserves?

    Thanks to their extensive oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, the Norwegians calculated that there is 3000 billion tons of coal there. Anything elsewhere?


    CNCA estimated China’s national coal consumption at 2.71 billion mt over the first eight months of 2012, up 1.4% year on year. This growth rate is down 8.7 percentage points year on year.

    As far as Prakash Sharma of WoodMckenzie India export estimates…

    More specifically, he points at Australia’s Surat and Galilee basins, Indonesia’s Kalimantan and Sumatra basins, as well as those in Mozambique, Mongolia, Russia’s Far East and the west coast of the US.

    The existing coal handling terminals on the West Coast of the North America are at capacity. There are proposals to build ‘up to 150 Million Tons’ of additional coal handling capacity. The proposals, in addition to having serious local opposition also have the problem of rail capacity if they all go forward.

    There are 3 major rail routes through the Cascades. The Stevens Pass tunnel is already operating at 123% of capacity. I have a friend that drive trains…they have to wear gas masks to transit the tunnel. The Stampede Pass tunnel is unsuitable for trains carrying heavy loads because of the grade. That leaves the Pasco-Vancouver line which is already operating at 70% capacity and is projected to be ‘over capacity’ by 2025 without a substantial increase in coal traffic.

    Click to access RailFinalReport.pdf

    With all due respect to Prakash at WoodMcKenzie..I doubt he has ever inspected the rail lines that the coal would have to travel over.

  3. Jarmo | September 23, 2012 at 9:23 am | Reply

    An aside about coal: how much coal is there that is today considered unaccessible and not included in the reserves?

    As and example…estimated ‘Exploitable’ Chinese Coal is about 114 billion tons. Total Chinese Coal resource is in excess of 5,000 billion tons.

    It would take us more then 1,000 years to burn all the ‘geologically available’ coal if we tried.

  4. I am curious about how the Chinese interface their wind power with other other sources. Do they use wind and hydro has compliments?

    • Hi Marty, Sadly no. They also have several thousand turbines that they put up but haven’t yet hooked up to the grid at all as of yet. I wouldn’t characterize their efforts in wind as well-planned.

      • The problem is that the central approval for wind farm’s threshold was set at 50MW. (In many US states it’s something like any generator over 25KW must get grid pre-approval)

        Of course, Chinese business people, being world class experts at skirting regulations then proceeded to build loads of 49.5MW wind farms without central approval. No central approval = no grid planning.

        Surprise,surprise…grid connection problems and the owners of those 49.5MW wind farms complaining bitterly about the inability of the grid to handle their wind farms.

        IMHO The ‘central plan’ of 200GW of wind tied into 400GW of hydro by 2020 is pretty solid.

      • Funnily enough, exactly the same thing happened in Italy.

      • That’s pretty much what happened in PA. We have hydro and pumped water storage and did a study on using wind in conjunction with them and then ignored it when they built the wind farms.

      • By any chance, does anyone know if Sweden did a better job. They have a lot of hydro and wind in their mix.

  5. harrywr2

    “As and example…estimated ‘Exploitable’ Chinese Coal is about 114 billion tons. Total Chinese Coal resource is in excess of 5,000 billion tons.

    It would take us more then 1,000 years to burn all the ‘geologically available’ coal if we tried.”

    I’ve looked into UCG and that technology will probably make part of the “geologically available” coal an exploitable resource. Yerostigaz in Uzbekistan has had a plant running for 50 years powering a 400 MW power station and Majuba Power Station has a 100 MW syngas turbine. Linc Energy is making GTL fuel in Australia with UCG. Looks like China is also getting the technology.

    • I’ve looked into UCG and that technology will probably make part of the “geologically available” coal an exploitable resource

      But will I like the price? Probably not.

      Governments the world over have invested via subsidy and grants into any number of technologies in effort to to answer Toms’ question as to how we are going to produce 3,000 quads of energy per year at a price we can afford to pay.

      Coal gasification and CO2 carbon capture seem like ‘plan b’ or ‘plan c’ to me. I.E. If all else fails.

      • Your Reuter’s article is about the viability of UCG in the US. With the oil shale and shale gas supply the US has, I totally agree that it is not going to be big in the US, at least not in the next 10 years.

        However, it is a very different story in China and India. Their fossil resource base is very modest by comparison and almost exclusively coal. A lot of the coal either too deep or otherwise uneconomical to recover can be used with UCG.

      • At around $4 to $5/MMBtu Nukes are cheaper, wind is cheaper, hydro is cheaper then conventional coal. That will still require peaking capacity technologies based on fossil for the foreseeable future.

      • UCG and GTL together seem to be a viable option. Aussies (Linc Energy) claim that they can produce GTL oil from coal at 40 dollars a barrel.

        Shell’s GTL project in Qatar started production this summer, they turn natural gas into oil. Although expensive at 18 billion $, this article claims it will make 6 billion $ profit a year if oil price is 70 US$ a barrel. Lifetime production is estimated 3 billion barrels.

  6. It is clear that coal will remain available well beyond the 2075 3,000 quads point. Here in the US, we’re using less and less coal , which can be exported to those using more.

    • Coal is expensive to transport. Currently a ton of steam coal can be dug out of the ground in Wyoming for about $9.40/ton. The price of coal in the Port of Rotterdam is over $90/metric ton.

  7. There is an interesting article by Li and Zhou that is reviewed by Pielke on Oct. 1st. It gives insight into the Chinese consensus on AGW, the role of co2 is way exaggerated. Maybe that explains the coal.

    • Marty,

      If you start with an assumption that China is going to need 1600GW of generation capacity medium term(next 5-10 years).

      US per capita generating capacity is about 3.1 KW. If we assume that the Chinese will need just 1/2 of that then we get 1.2 billion * 3.1 KW * .5 = 1860GW. So 1600GW is a ‘low’ assumption.

      They have a max potential hydro capacity of about 400GW. They will have to put hydro dams on drainage ditches to get there.

      Then if you use a 1 part wind to 2 parts water for balancing you can get another 200GW from wind.

      So you are up to about 600GW…you still need 1,000 GW more.

      Then if you make an assumption that it will take them five years to double the size of their nuclear human infrastructure you can get to 40GW of nuclear by 2015 and 80 to 100 GW of nuclear by 2020. Anybody who has ever been in a rapidly growing organization will tell you that rapid staff growth is a major headache. I wouldn’t live next to a nuclear plant where the ‘senior operator’ had less then 5 years of experience as an assistant operator and another 5 years experience as a junior operator. In the US the ‘nuclear navy’ preceded commercial nuclear power by about 5 years. The navy was the training ground. The Chinese don’t have a nuclear navy from which to pull qualified nuclear operators.

      That leaves a 900GW hole. The only fossil resource they have in any quantity is coal. So coal it is.

      On the brighter side the Chinese just completed a thorough Geothermal Energy Potential Assessment.

      and Solar looks poised to take off big time in China.

      If I could get solar for less then $1.58 watt I would cover my roof in solar panels. The Chinese can and it appears they will.

  8. I once taught nuclear operators and got feedback from my former students. They got pitiful little basic science. I was supposed to teach them physics. I was told to water the course down until it was below high school level. If they failed, they got their grades changed to a C. Their selection into the program used grades and recommendations in reverse. The smart and curious were weeded out. Most of their learning was sequential and reactor specific. Much of their instruction was convincing them that the whole thing was safe. The Chinese high school grads that I’ve had in class could pass these guys in a few weeks.

    • Maybe I used the wrong term for operator. I think the term I meant is ‘Chief Nuclear Officer’ which is a different job then the people who spend all day staring at various sensor readings.

      The people who stare at dials all day shouldn’t be exceptionally bright as their minds will wander.

  9. Harry, I’ll bet you can get solar for less than $1.58 by the end of this year.

    I went into the Navy under their nuke program before transferring to electronics–I think they’ve run an awful lot of subs for a long time without needing genius-level intellects looking at the dials. What they have is the Book.

    • Good luck on solar panels in the US at less the $1.58/w 😉 Someday probably…but I think some Chinese Solar Panel makers are headed to bankruptcy,

      Yes..I know about the ‘book’ on operating nuke plants.
      For the most part it’s all a very methodical if X then Y and that’s great.
      I had a high school acquaintance that also did the navy nuclear program,IIRC it was an 18 month training program. That still didn’t qualify him to be the ‘senior’ nuclear operator on a boat.

      Lot’s of people are ‘technically qualified’ to do job X,Y or Z but for various reasons end up in practice end up being incapable of doing the job well.

      I have two clients for my software package. One client has a 10 year average uptime of 99.98% the other has an uptime of 97%. I’ll let you guess which client IT department has a requirement for a degree in Computer Science.

      To create a team of people ‘well suited’ to a job takes time a long time to select out ‘well suited’ for a job from the ‘well qualified’ candidate pool. Myers-Briggs might help but time will only tell.

  10. The Chinese Govt just release a whitepaper on energy development.

    Not much new – by 2015 40 GW of nuclear,20 GW of solar, 100 GW of wind and hydro 290GW+.

  11. 9 month clean energy figures for China

    BEIJING, Oct 24 (Bernama) — China consumed 715.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of power generated by clean energy sources in the first nine months of 2012, up 22.5 percent year-on-year.

  12. Interesting figures on China’s year to date capital investment in generating resources. Hydro + Nuclear investment is double coal fired investment.

  13. from bloomberg

    “n the year to October, electricity generated from clean- energy sources, including from hydro and nuclear plants, increased 26 percent to 810.2 billion kilowatt hours, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said in a statement yesterday. That amounts to 20.4 percent of on-grid electricity”

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