China Reigns as Largest Energy Consumer


This week’s energy focus is unarguably on China. The argument between China and the International Energy Agency (IEA) about China becoming the biggest energy consumer is still fresh in everyone’s mind and the energy giant continues to make more news that no one can ignore.

China Surpasses the U.S. as No.1 Energy Consumer

According to figures recently released from the International Energy Agency, China has overtaken the U.S. and is now the world’s number one energy consumer.

China’s total 2009 consumption equals approximately 2.265 billion tons of oil, compared with 2.169 billion tons used by the U.S., according to the IEA. These figures show that energy consumption in China has more than doubled over the last decade, from 1.107 billion tons in 2000, despite the fact that the U.S. still consumes five times the amount of energy that China does per capita. The staggering energy consumption increase is driven by China’s leapfrog economic development and burgeoning population growth.

China Denies that China Surpasses U.S. as No. 1 Energy Consumer

China is denying the No.1 title, calling the IEA numbers, “not very credible” according to a Financial Times article. A Beijing official from the National Energy Administration said at a press conference that China’s energy consumption last year was equivalent to 2.132 billion tons of oil, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, Xinhua News Agency reported.

No matter who is right in the fight and regardless of whether China is willing to take the hat, as living standards in China continue to rise, China will be the top energy consumer sooner or later. This news certainly puts China at the center of world scrutiny and criticism, but at the same time it also allows for bigger investment in China’s clean energy technology and encourages China to try out new approaches it has not considered before.

China May Invest 5 Trillion RMB ($738) in Clean Energy

A recent article from Bloomberg Businessesweek reported that China may spend about 5 trillion yuan ($738 billion) in the coming decade for the purpose of developing cleaner sources of energy:

“The government will submit plans to develop cleaner energy, including nuclear power and gas from unconventional sources, in 2011 to 2020 to the State Council, or Cabinet, for approval, Jiang Bing, head of the National Energy Administration’s planning and development department said in Beijing.”

According to the China New Energy website, this 5 trillion RMB investment is part of a tentative New Energy Industrial Development Plan (2011-2020) composed by the National Energy Administration. Although this plan has some overlap with the 12th Five Year Energy Development Plan, they have different priorities and a different time span.

China to Begin Domestic Carbon Trading

As the previously highly-anticipated Kerry-Liberman cap and trade bill becomes officially defunct, China has already announced its plan to start a domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015). This program will allow China to meet its 2020 carbon intensity target, according to  China Daily.

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