June 11, 2011
China Surpasses US In Energy Consumption

BP's 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy is out and the biggest news: China has become the biggest world energy consumer.

BP, in its 60th annual Statistical Review of World Energy, said China accounted for 20.3 per cent of demand, compared with the United States' 19 per cent.

The report said China's consumption rose by 11.2 per cent last year. American demand increased 3.7 per cent.

For carbon dioxide emissions China already blew past the United States about 5 years ago due to China's much heavier reliance on coal. Now China has surpassed the US in total heat energy used across all energy types. The Chinese economy's heavy reliance on coal makes it more immune to high oil prices. Though high level of car sales in China threatens to make China much more vulnerable to high oil prices.

King Coal gained market share. China was was responsible for two thirds of the coal consumption rise.

Thermal coal consumption in the global energy mix in 2010 rose to 29.6%, its highest level since 1970, according to the BP 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy.

In 2001, coal accounted for 25.6% of the global energy market.

Oil's share of the energy market continues to decline. The remaining oil costs more to extract and prices are high.

Oil remains the world’s leading fuel, at 33.6% of global energy consumption, but it continued to lose market share for the 11th consecutive year.

When will coal's market share surpass oil? It depends on China most of all. If the Chinese slow up their nuclear power plant construction program they'll keep ramping up their coal consumption until they hit the limits of available domestic coal.

So are renewables gaining ground against fossil fuels? In a word: No. Fossil fuels gained market share overall.

The growth in fossil fuels was so strong that although non-fossil-fuel energy also had a record year, its share of the world total primary energy decreased a little.

Here's what's interesting. While wind grew by 24.6% and solar by 73% they are such a small fraction of total non-fossil fuels energy that their high percentage growth rates did not translate into a high percentage growth rate for non-fossil fuels overall. Solar still amounts to only 0.1% of total electric power and an even smaller percentage of overall energy production. Wind is now 1.6% of global electric power. It needs a few more doublings to become a major player.

Wind and solar are helped by subsidies. But in order to scale they've got to compete on price.

The 7.4% rise in natural gas consumption is especially impressive, almost as high as coal's 7.6% increase. Can gas shale production ramp up outside of the United States enough to allow the natural gas rate of production growth to surpass coal?

Solar energy's got to go thru 4 doublings just to catch up with where wind energy is now. While solar gets huge attention in the price it is really a very minor bit player even today.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 June 11 10:55 PM  Energy Policy

Bruce said at June 12, 2011 9:48 AM:

If real life were a James Bond movie, a Chinese supervillain would be laughing himself silly over the success of funding the anti-CO2 propaganda that has sent millions of jobs to China so they can burn vast quantities of coal to allow them to manufacture products that will get shipped back to the stupid countries that made energy more expensive than it should have been and squandered trillions on AGW fanaticism.

AGW cult members actually made things worse.

Bruce said at June 12, 2011 9:50 AM:

Don't forget: "IPCC: Half of Renewable Energy is Wood, Charcoal, and Animal Dung"


Bruce said at June 12, 2011 10:14 AM:

China - 48.2% of world coal consumption / USA - 14.8%

China - Coal consumptions doubles in 7.5 years / USA - 45 million tonnes LESS than 2000

India - Coal consumption doubles in last 10 years to 277 million tonnes, and possibly only 7 years away from matching US consumption

Anonymous said at June 12, 2011 1:21 PM:

I am a little confused, from the link: "...increasing by a record 39.4 GW to reach 200 GW by the end of 2010". And from a different source: "The generation of power from wind in 2010 is estimated to be nearly 340 TWh (around 1.6% of total electricity generation)." Let see total world energy use is: "In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh). This is equivalent to an average annual power consumption rate of 15 terawatts" from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption.
Okay 200G/15000G= 1.3% of total energy consumption, not electricity consumption which is only a fraction of total energy use. Wind is therefore producing a much higher percentage of electricy consumed, despite what the links say.

Bruce said at June 12, 2011 1:54 PM:

Wind power actually generated is always waaayyyyy smaller than installed capacity.

"The latest statistics show that, while wind turbines produced 8.6% of the nation's electricity during the three months to December 23, 2010, the percentage created this way when the snow and freezing temperatures hit fell to as low as 1.8%.

Nicholson said: "What is so worrying is that these sort of figures are not a one off. It was exactly the same last January and February when high pressure brought freezing cold temperatures, snow and no wind.""


Engineer-Poet said at June 12, 2011 9:19 PM:

Bruce needs to rename himself "Non-Sequitur Man".  Truth in labelling, y'know.

Word elsewhere is that China's mineable coal supplies are low enough that they'll face a Hubbert peak soon, no matter what policy they pursue.  Coal consumption may continue to increase via UCG of unmineable seams, or maybe the microbial conversion to methane.  But that's speculative right now.

PacRim Jim said at June 12, 2011 10:03 PM:

Efficiency is all.

bmack500 said at June 12, 2011 11:12 PM:

At the head of the article, did you mean to say "Consumer" and not "Producer"?

Bruce said at June 13, 2011 11:36 AM:

EP, China's coal production has doubled since 2002/2003 and exceeds consumption (1800mt vs 1713mt)


"Vast reserves of coal in the far west of China mean it is set to become the "new Middle East", a leading figure in the global coal industry has claimed."


Engineer-Poet said at June 13, 2011 8:27 PM:

China is ready to impose limits on coal production because the supplies can't sustain such a rate of growth.

There's been plenty of talk about countries with more energy than the Middle East.  US coal, Canadian and Venezuelan tar sands, and now Chinese coal have all been nominated for the title.  Reality isn't likely to match the hype.  Nuclear is about the only thing which can (when you already have 300 years of energy as DU sitting in warehouses, it's hard to over-estimate the ready supply).

Bruce said at June 13, 2011 9:24 PM:

EP: The Oil Drum? The web site set up with a mysterious 100,000 cash donation from somebody like George Soros? Really? Its a website pimping doom and gloom.

"China's coal production and traffic volume has maintained double-digit growth, and the national coal reserves stood at 200 million tons by the end of April, helping the nation meet the increasing demand for coal, officials said.

China produced 1.12 billion tons of coal by the end of April, an increase of 11.1 percent year-on-year, according to a report Wednesday by the China National Coal Association (CNCA)."


In reality, China is having hydroelectric problems because of drought.

Wolf-Dog said at June 14, 2011 6:27 AM:

The moment of truth will be in 2012, when the National Ignition Facility fusion lasers will be tested:

In a couple of years we will find out if the energy generated by this method of fusion is greater than the energy used to ignite the fusion fuel pellets.

If this thing does not work, the world will suffer the consequences.

Also, it is said that fusion energy is not as clean as it is claimed to be because the continual neutron bombardment will make the walls radioactive. In addition, the radiation will also damage the containment infrastructure, so a very clever architecture will be needed.

Constitution First said at June 15, 2011 1:10 PM:

They've got all our manufacturing, makes perfect sense they use more power.

Want to see massive energy consumption?

Wait until a billion and a half people get busy pursuing a nice middle class life...

I'll bet the farm they won't give a rat's a$$ about "Climate Change".

richard40 said at June 15, 2011 3:10 PM:

We waste billions wringing small amounts of carbon from our economy, while Chinas carbon footprint grows enormously each year. Personally I think global warming is a crock, and if you beleive the solar physists our real problem is a coming ice age, where manmade global warming, if it exhists, will actually help. But even if you assume manmade global warming is a real problem, the only sensible target should be China, since their yearly growth in coal use completely dwarfs any carbon reductions we or the EU could possibly make. We should not even consider reducing our carbon use, unless China agrees to a moratorium on growing theirs. China has not agreed, and probably never will, because they know that global warming is a crock.

Trent Telenko said at June 17, 2011 2:30 AM:

Peak oil IS NOT coming.

See the two links and extracted text below:


Lawrence Solomon: Israel’s new energy
Jun 10, 2011 – 6:01 PM ET


Israel May Hold the World’s Third Largest Reserve of Shale Oil

The most recent developments in this story start with Dr Harold Vinegar, the former chief scientist of Royal Dutch Shell, who is at the center of an ambitious project to turn Israel into one of the world's leading oil producers. Israel Energy Initiatives, or IEI, where Vinegar is chief scientist, is working on projects to extract oil and natural gas from oil shale from a 238sq km area of the Shfela Basin, to the south and west of Jerusalem.


"We estimate there is the equivalent of 250 billion barrels of oil here. To put that in context, there are proven reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia."

And not to upset too many people, but we also ran an item earlier this year about Arab scientists working for ARAMCO who argue that the Saudis have, in fact, systematically OVER-estimated their proven reserves.

IEI estimates the marginal cost of production will be between $US35 - 40 per barrel.


Wow, this really DOES sound like the shale oil equivalent of "fracking". The oil produced by the process is light and easily refined to a range of products, including naphtha, jet fuel and diesel.

This is significant, since light oil -- like that produced in Libya -- is considered "sweet" and much less costly to refine than the heavier crude found in Saudi Arabia.

Given the importance of political receptivity to outside investors in the energy business, it's not surprising the project is attracting serious interest from outside investors. In November, 2010, an 11% stake in Genie Oil & Gas, the division of IDC that is the parent company of IEI, was acquired for $US11m by Jacob Rothschild, the banker, and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation and promoter of right-wing lunacy throughout the English-speaking world.

Genie's advisory board includes impressive figures such as Michael Steinhardt, the hedge fund investor, and more frightening ones, like Dick Cheney, former US vice-president, and co-founder of the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iraq, along with his running buddy George W Bush.

We are seeing a energy supply paradigm shift here.

Once Israel breaks the risk premium (capital risk of the technology and the political risk premium from Arab oil retaliation and Green Regulatory NIMBY-ism) of the deep oil shale extraction and waterless deep gas fracking. We will see a huge amount of energy sources emerging in politically stable areas of the world at $35-$45 a barrel.

Israel is providing an example of how oil consuming nations can become oil producing ones.

Forget Europe and America for a moment. Think China.

The oil shale extraction technology is being funded strictly with Jewish money, due to the financial threats being made from the Saudis among others.

And once Israel goes there for oil shale, the barriers to coal gasification and natural gas to liquid hydrocarbon fall and will follow deep oil shale extraction into the stable world energy mix.

A future Israel that is rich, free and prosperous by the sweat of its own effort, and has merchants of the world beating down its doors to get more, is a fulfilment of Golda Meir's dreams.


A world where Israel has the income stream of Saudi Arabia...

...And no need for American foreign military sales. Nor limits to whom they can sell their arms technology too.

Israel that can afford to fund academic seats and grants to universities across the Western world as the Saudis have done.

Israel that can threaten Europe with the "Oil Weapon" as hard as the Arabs.

Israel that can buy and sell Leftist NGO's world wide with that self same cash.

Or create competing NGO's to further the interests of the Israel state.

This is a set of technologies that will power the world economy for the next 50 years...without the Arab oil ticks.

Engineer-Poet said at June 17, 2011 9:18 AM:

Only one problem with that:

"Oil" shale doesn't contain oil.  It contains kerogen, a precursor substance which has to be thermally cracked to create oil.  So far, nobody's found a way to produce oil from it at a profit; the energy cost of the cracking process keeps putting it out of reach even as the crude price goes up, because the same energy sources required by the cracking process get bid up right along with the crude.

The only long-term successful oil shale operation I'm aware of is a powerplant in the Baltics which burns the stuff like coal.

Bruce said at June 17, 2011 4:09 PM:

Ep, Israel has huge amounts of offshore gas. Perfect for cooking the kerogen in situ.

16tcf - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/world/middleeast/31leviathan.html

Israel will get to burn inexpensive gas to produce oil worth a lot of money.

The US could be doing the same thing, but Obama won't let anyone.

"One of the first actions the Obama team took when it assumed office in was to direct Secretary of the Interior Salazar to cancel 77 shale oil and gas leases in Utah. The next year they canceled 61 onshore leases in Montana. The Green River shale formation in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, has an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil, which is three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Federal law prohibits drilling for most of these resources."


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