Energy mix is the amount of each of the different sources of energy a country uses for industry, transport and in homes (countries rarely rely on one source for all their energy needs due to energy security concerns) this is often shown as a percentage. China’s energy mix has changed drastically over the past decades and continues to make the move towards utilising gas as a source of energy whilst there’s been a declining use of coal. This is due to several factors some of which includes the need to maintain security of supply at affordable prices for growing industrial and domestic demands, as well as need to improve environmental pollution.
China has the largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, doubling in size every eight years, and as standards of living increase industrial output increases simultaneously. China has become the world’s second largest energy consumer, consuming 0.03 billion tonnes more of oil equivalent more than the US in 2009, compared to just half a decade before. In 2008 China relied mainly on coal (70.2%) with oil usage of 18.7%, hydroelectricity at 6.6%, followed by natural gas and nuclear energy at 3.6% and 0.9%. The main issues faced is finding sources which are reliable and energy secure as well as sufficient to supply the needs of the population; as well as a supply that will deem it no longer the largest producer of greenhouse gases caused by the production of coal. This will be achieved by diversifying and expanding the energy mix o emphasise cleaner fuels to mitigate GHG emissions.
Originally as the economy expanded in the 1990/80s there was emphasis on use of coal-the main energy resource which was used to increase production and more coal-fired power stations were built. This resulted in high mining casualties and despite safety regulations in 2009 2631 people were killed due to cave-ins, floods and explosions. This is because many mines were privately owned and not thoroughly monitored; minors were poorly equipped and untrained.
Coal production in 2009 was 3050 million tonnes accounting for 46.89% of the worlds total and Northern China especially shanghai province contains most of the easily accessible coal. Coal production has increased over three decades with it being 600million tonnes in 1980 (a fifth of the current level). But high investment was also required to transport it via rail system to major points of consumption in the south and east, accounting to 50% of rail capacity. Insufficient rail capacity is a reason that china has begun to import coal in the south and east, becoming the second largest importer of coal in 2009 (imported from Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam) In 2006 there was plans to reconstruct the coal sector and establish five giant conglomerates in China’s main coal producing provinces and close down small mines by 2015-improving safety. However a general decline in the use of coal (the dirtiest of fossil fuels) has been triggered due to pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the country itself and also the global community to prevent the foreseeable environmental consequences.
Until the early 1990 China was an exporter of oil but now imports a substantial amount to meet the consumption demand of 8.6 barrels daily, 10.4% of world’s consumption. This shift from exporter to large scale importer demonstrated China’s investment in secure overseas sources of supply with long term contracts made between Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, deals with Iraq have however drawn international criticism over unstable political systems.
Furthermore priority was given to building up a national oil reserve, with an announcement in 2007 of expanding their crude reserves into a two part system, which is government controlled as well as a petroleum reserve to protect china to a certain extent from fluctuations in global oil price.. The most state owned oil and gas assets were organised into two vertically integrated firms the CNPC and Sinopec, with a pipeline from Russia to china pumping 30 million tons per annum. Furthermore use of domestic gas has increased with production of 85.2 billion cubic meters accounting for 2.9% of global population, with the construction of several pipelines to supply this. China has made a commitment to get 10% of its energy mix from gas by 2015, some of which will come from new Siberian fields and much will come from LNG from Australia and also indigenous shale gas.
In recent years china has tried to adopt a more balanced approach to energy supply as well as reducing environmental impact with the objectives of: energy conservation, a strong emphasis on domestic resources, diversified energy development and mutually beneficial international co-operation.
There’s a five year plan to reduce energy use per unit GDP by 20% and to ensure more secure supply. The development of a clean alternate fuel to coil is central to the energy policy and has began to construct cleaner coal plants at the rate of one a month; as well as an experimental facility that removes carbon dioxide from emissions to provide carbonation for beverages.. Another strand of the policy is increase nuclear power with a target capacity of 80GW by 2020 compared to 9.1 in 2008; its rapidly becoming self sufficient in reactor design and construction with a further 124 nuclear reactors on the drawing board-therefore is less reliant on overseas expertise and more energy secure. The renewable energy capacity reached 226GW in 2009 contributing to over a quarter of electricity capacity from the major contributor of hydroelectricity from the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze river the world’s largest electricity generating plant as well as growing wind power capacity growing thirtyfold between 2005-9. In 2008 there was the development of an offshore wind farm policy and is the largest turbine manufacturing industry as well as the largest manufacturer of solar Panels finding use in domestic systems such as the hot water market.
Overall several factors have contributed from the shift from mining coal to sourcing various other energy supplies from elsewhere or harnesses sing natural renewable energy. The overall plan is to reduce reliance on coal and to play a role in the green energy manufacturing business, allowing china to pursue its required energy expansion for the growing population with reasonably secureenergy supplies.