Is anxiety perpetual for world's largest energy consumer?

January 12, 2012
China energy anxiety cycle

In a classic manifestation of “the more you have, the more you worry” syndrome, China's energy chief said this week that the country is under greater pressure to ensure energy supply this year as both demand and international competition for resources grows.

Of course China is not the only country worried about energy supplies but it is the world's largest energy consumer, surpassing the US in 2010. Year-on-year China's power consumption rose 11.7 percent to 4.7 trillion kWh in in 2011 but this year growth is expected to slow to 8.5 percent amid the country's economic slowdown.

Speaking at a national energy work conference on Tuesday Liu Tienan, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), said the country was facing a "grim situation" in energy saving and emission reduction, adding that there is an urgent needed to restructure the energy use and control the gross consumption volume this year.

The NEA plans to add another 200 million metric tonnes to the country's coal-production capacity this year plus 70 million kw of new installed power-generating capacity, to come from a number of sources.

Liu says China will start building of 20-GW of new hydropower projects this year and, once new safety plans are approved, will get on with further nuclear power development. The NEA is also targeting between 15-to-18 GW of new wind capacity this year.

The NEA has budgeted 65 billion yuan (USD10.3 billion) for upgrading the grids in rural areas and Liu said the aim is to provide electricity to another 600,000 people who currently have no access to it this year, and expand electricity access to 5 million people by 2015.

He also said that, over the next four years, China will facilitate the development of non-conventional natural gas, such as shale gas and coal-bed methane, and increasing the number of natural gas users by 100 million to 250 million.