China’s push for rapid economic development
will dominate global energy markets and be the
single biggest force in spurring higher oil prices
emissions linked to climate change over the next
quarter-century, the International Energy Agency
reported on Tuesday.
push for rapid economic development will dominate
global energy markets and be the single biggest
force in spurring
higher oil prices and carbon emissions linked
to climate change over the next quarter-century,
Energy Agency reported on Tuesday.
At the same time, however, China is poised to
be the driving influence behind the development
of renewable energy like wind and solar power,
to the agency’s annual energy outlook.
The agency, which is based in Paris and advises
the industrialized nations, predicted that Chinese
energy demand would soar 75 percent by 2035, accounting
for more than a third of the growth in global consumption.
While China today accounts for 17 percent of world
demand for energy, it should account for 22 percent
in 25 years, at the same time that India and other
developing countries also expand their energy use.
The growth in Chinese energy consumption has already
been breathtaking, according to the report. Over
the last decade, China’s energy demand has
doubled. While China used only half as much energy
as the United States in 2000, it actually surpassed
the United States in 2009 as the world’s largest
And given that the average Chinese consumer uses
roughly one-third the energy of consumers in industrialized
countries of North America or Europe, energy demand
is certain to grow as long as the Chinese economy
China’s thirst for energy is leading it to
build not only coal-fired power plants, but also
wind farms, at a record pace, and to invest in energy
sources around the world, like oil fields in Sudan,
hydroelectric power in Burma and natural gas fields
in south Texas. Beijing’s ability to lift hundreds
of millions of people into the middle class over
the coming years will be largely based on its ability
to produce more energy, and its foreign policies
can also be expected to follow its energy interests,
energy experts say.
“China’s decisions on energy will affect
every person in the world,” Fatih Birol, the
agency’s chief economist, said in an interview. “We
project them to be the world leaders, producing new
capacity in wind, solar, nuclear and advanced coal.”
With China and its 1.3 billion people as a primary
engine, the energy agency predicted that world energy
demand should grow by more than a third over the
next 25 years, as new oil supplies became harder
It also predicted that oil prices would rise to
$113 a barrel in 2035, in current dollars, a rise
of nearly $30. The agency also predicted that fossil
fuels — oil, natural gas and coal — would
remain primary sources of energy for the world, though
renewable energy sources and conservation efforts
would increase in importance.
The agency’s prognosis for Chinese energy
use is challenging for efforts to control climate
change, but it is not entirely bleak.
With $735 billion in investment plans over the next
decade in nuclear, wind, solar and biomass projects,
China is becoming a world leader in low-carbon energy
output, according to the report.
“Given the sheer scale of China’s domestic
market, its push to increase the share of new low-carbon
energy technologies could play an important role
in driving down their costs through faster rates
of technology learning and economies of scale,” the
On Monday, the German automaker Volkswagen announced
plans to build 10,000 electric cars in China starting
in 2014. In addition, Nissan Motor, General Motors
and Daimler are planning to build electric vehicles
in China, which offers subsidies to buyers of such
cars to cut oil consumption.
The country is also decreasing the energy intensity
of its economic output, in part by lowering subsidies.
Last year, the report said, the average retail price
for gasoline in China was 40 percent higher than
in the United States because of higher taxes, and
32 percent higher for diesel.
“Our projections indicate an improvement in
emissions intensity (3.8 percent a year) between
2008 and 2035, which is faster than improvements
achieved elsewhere,” according to the report.
Still, the report said China would remain a crucial
anchor in the world coal trade. China’s coal
consumption between 2000 and 2008 accounted for three-quarters
of the global growth in coal demand. With 60 percent
of energy demand in China’s industrial sector
currently coming from coal, it will take years for
China to slow its consumption of coal, the most carbon-intensive
of fossil fuels.
The report offered many predictions about demand
and supply of various fuels around the world, but
it also concluded that there were many uncertainties.
It wondered whether carbon capture and storage technology
would ever become commercially available to clean
increasing coal-fired electricity generation. It
wondered whether biofuels production from crops like
corn could be sustainable for food supplies.
“One point is certain,” the report concluded. “The
center of gravity of global energy demand growth
now lies in the developing world, especially in China