Data Hub

China’s energy landscape

 1 July, 2017


The largest manufacturing economy globally, China is the also the largest energy consumer in the world, accounting for 23 per cent of global energy consumption. The Asian giant contributed 27 per cent to global energy demand growth in 2016, according to the BP Statistical Review. 


In 2015, coal remained the dominant fuel in China, with the country meeting 64 per cent of its energy needs through coal. As it now moves to cleaner low carbon source of energy, the share of coal in China’s energy demand is projected to fall to less than 45 per cent by 2035.


By the year 2020, China is projected to witness a slight drop in its consumption of coal by two per cent and a further drop by 2035, where the share of coal in China’s energy demand is likely to fall to less than 45 per cent, according to the BP Statistical Review.


The country is also the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power and nearly half of the installed photovoltaic power worldwide in 2016 was in China, as per the IEA & China National Energy Administration. China’s photovoltaic capacity in 2016 was 77,420 MW, showing a rapid increase since 2015 (43,180 MW) and 2014 (28,199 MW). 


But in spite of expansions into clean energy, coal still takes up 63 per cent of China’s energy use in 2015, as per latest data available. China is one of the world’s biggest consumers of oil, accounting for 13 per cent of the global demand, as per the Energy Information Administration, USA. The consumption of oil has seen a steady and upward swing in China since 1993, amounting to 12 million barrels per day in 2015. 


The production of oil, however, has been more or less steady through the two decades, reaching barely 5 million barrels in 2015. The Asian giant imports over 50 per cent of the oil it consumes, with over half of it coming from the Middle East countries. Saudi Arabia imports maximum oil (16 per cent) to China, followed by Angola (13 per cent), Russia (11 per cent), Oman (10 per cent) and Iraq (9 per cent).


While the share of oil is 18 per cent in meeting China’s energy needs (lagging only behind coal), the rest of the energy sources have a comparatively measly contribution, as per BP energy review 2014.  Natural gas (6%), nuclear (1%), hydro (8%) and solar and wind and bio (2%) energy sources have still not been tapped in a big way to meet China’s energy demands. 


For its new energy plan, China has identified four targets, which are meant to be mandatorily achieved by 2020.  These targets include limiting coal consumption to 58 per cent, cutting energy intensity – the energy consumption per unit of GDP – by 15 per cent, dropping carbon intensity by 18 per cent from 2015 levels and increasing the share of non-fossil energy to 15 per cent.



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