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By Samuel R. Avro on Jul 19, 2010 with 6 responses

China Passes U.S. as World’s Top Energy Consumer

China has knocked the U.S. out of the top spot –a position it held for more than a century– as the world’s biggest energy consumer, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.

China consumed 2,252 million tons of ‘oil equivalent’ last year, which is about 4 percent more than the 2,170 million tons the U.S. consumed. Oil equivalent is the term used by the IEA to bring all forms of energy into a comparable form, including crude oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar power.

Projections were for China not to overtake the U.S. for another 5 years, but the takeover occured faster than expected with the effects of the global recesssion causing the U.S. economy to decline at a time that the Chinese economy was continuing to expand at a double-digit pace. Energy consumption in the U.S. flatlined while China continued to consume more.

Energy consumption in the U.S. was double that of China’s just a decade ago.

The U.S. still remains the world’s largest energy consumer per capita, with the average American using 5 times more energy than the average Chinese citizen.

“The fact that China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer symbolizes the start of a new age in the history of energy,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

China relies on coal for much of its electricity generation, which accounts for why China already passed the U.S. as the world’s largest polluter several years ago.

The U.S. still remains comfortably in the lead in terms of crude oil consumption, with a consumption rate of 19 million barrels of oil per day. China currently consumes only nine million barrels of oil per day, although their consumption rate continues to climb.

Over the next 15 years, China’s electricity demand is expected to increase by 1,000 GW – equivalent to the total U.S. electricity output today.

  1. By Kit P on July 19, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    “Over the next 15 years, China’s electricity demand is expected to increase by 1,000 GW – equivalent to the total U.S. electricity output today.”

     

    Just to nick pick, comparing demand for electricity (GWh)  to capacity to make electricity  (GW) is a common mistake.

     

    Electrification is part of modernization of society is often overestimated.  Heating with coal is replaced with electricity; then more efficient electric heating systems replace those systems.

     

    Another characteristic of modernization of society is concern for the environment.  If you are heating with coal, you have one standard called just surviving.  If you are heating with electricity, you want clean air to go along with your cold beer.

     

    At the risk of over simplifying, China can not mine and transport coal fast enough to keep up with demand.  China has turned to nuclear to meet part of the demand.

     

    “Ling Ao II nuclear power plant was connected to the grid on 15 July”

     

    It will take less than 5 years from construction start to commercial operation.  This is also how long it took to build similar in the US under the same conditions.

     

    The China coal demand situation has had the effect of making world coal prices increase.  As a result, new nukes are completive with coal in the US.  This is why we are building new nukes in the US.       

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  2. By Thomas on July 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    China is going to hit “peak coal” in the next decade. They aren’t going to be able to mine or import enough of it to keep up with growing demand. Nuke plants aren’t going to come online fast enough either. I expect them to cool down their growth and institute some kind of rationing/conservation plan. Expect some internal strife as a result, but nothing the regime can’t handle.

    Thats why I say export our coal and build nukes.

    Remember how we thought Japan was going to take over the world back in the 80′s? This next decade is going to be luke warm economically for everyone.

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  3. By Kit P on July 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    “China is going to hit
    “peak coal” in the next decade.”

     

    Where did you get that
    Thomas, a college professor in California?

     

    “Nuke plants aren’t going
    to come online fast enough either.”

     

    As we demonstrated in the
    US, Japan, and France; nuke plants can be built as fast as they need
    to be.

     

    “Remember how we thought
    Japan was going to take over the world back in the 80′s?”

     

    No actually, nothing against
    Japan but there are always some eager to predict the decline of the
    US. Do you know the name of the Japanese defense force? Answer: US
    Navy!

     

    China is fifty years behind
    the US in almost every metric. They do lead the world in the number
    of soldiers dedicated to to holding guns to its citizens head. One
    third of China has become a new middle class, 1/3rd
    working under slavery conditions, and 1/3rd holding a gun
    to heads of the rest. For China that is progress.

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  4. By Kit P on July 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Same design as previously
    noted but different location. This is a 40 year old design copied
    from a French design copied from a US design. There is nothing wrong
    with 40 year old designs. The fuel rods, controls, and metallurgy of
    course would reflect 40 years of lessons learned

     

    http://www.google.com/hostedne…..J5TFE2YT5g

     

    BEIJING — China has approved plans to build a nuclear
    power plant in the southwestern region of Guangxi, state media
    reported Monday, as Beijing makes good on a pledge to boost renewable
    energy sources.

    The first phase of the project in Fangchengchang city will involve
    investing 24 billion yuan (3.5 billion dollars) in two Chinese-made
    1.08 gigawatt reactors, the People’s Daily said, citing local
    government officials.

    The first reactor is expected to be operational in 2015 and the
    second in 2016, the report said.”

    Westinghouse and AREVA are also building the latest designs. Lots
    of US jobs have been created supplying components and designing stuff
    for China.

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  5. By Thomas on July 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    “China is going to hit
    “peak coal” in the next decade.”

    Where did you get that
    Thomas, a college professor in California?

    Kit, these chinese academics put the peak in the late 2020′s early 2030s, but that’s probably optimistic propaganda.

    Estimating coal production peak and trends of coal imports in China
    Bo-qiang Lin, a, and Jiang-hua Liua

    The Eneregy Watch Group (European environmentalists) puts it at 2015.
    http://www.energywatchgroup.or…..2007ms.pdf

    In 2000, China used about as much coal as we do in the U.S. ten years later they use 3x as much. If they were to grow their production by 7% a year for the next decade that would be another doubling of production.

    That’s why I say peak by 2020, when they will be pulling something like 6 billion tonnes of coal/yr. Well over 5% of their current estimated reserves. They just can’t grow coal output indefinitely.

    A MW of Nuclear power takes much longer (multiple-years) than a MW of coal (months) capacity even in the best conditions. Thus they’re in for an energy slowdown.

    This chinese nuke is going to take five years to build:
    http://www.dynabondpowertech.c…..ed-in-2015

    How many coal plants could they build in five years?

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  6. By Kit P on July 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Thomas I concede the point
    about China. This is not the first time I have failed the grasp the
    enormity of growth in China. The industrial might of the US and the
    ability of the US to make 50 % of our electricity with coal is indeed
    a large undertaking.

     

    My concern is the reliable
    supply of electricity in the US. The task in the US is one of
    maintaining infrastructure and providing for slow growth. China and
    some other countries have already reached that show down point.
    China has reached the limits of transporting coal to where it is
    needed. It is sad that many in China will face shortage of
    electricity in the winter.

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