China's energy problem

What positive impacts have renewable energies and energy efficiency?

Scientific Essay, 2014

17 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. List of Illustrations

2. Executive Summary

3. What is China’s energy status quo?
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Energy demand
3.3. Energy supply

4. Challenges
4.1. China’s enrivonmental problems
4.2. Technical issues of changing China’s energy system

5. Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency
5.1. Status quo and potential of Renewable Energies (RE)
5.2. Status quo and potential of Energy Efficiency (EE)

6. Outlook

7. Sources

1. List of Illustrations

Illustration cover rural Chinese farmer building with solar water heating

(Photo by Erik Ackner 2012, Jiangyou/Sichuan/China)

Illustration 3-1 Top 13 countries in primary energy consumption, 2012

(Graphic by Erik Ackner 2014, in line with Statista Inc. 2012: 36)

Illustration 3-2 Share of Energy Consumption in China, 2011

(Graphic by Erik Ackner 2012, in line with Enerdata Ltd., 2013: 23)

Illustration 3-3 Comparing Energy Consumption & Production, 2011

(Enerdata Ltd. 2013: 41)

Illustration 3-4 Gross Electricity Production in China by source, 2011

(Enerdata Ltd. 2013: 15)

Illustration 4-1 Smog over Beijing, 2011

(Photo by Erik Ackner 2011, Beijing/China)

Illustration 4-2 Renewable Resources and Top Energy Consumers

(Capalino, R; Fulton, M., 2012: 25)

2. Executive Summary

In March 2011 the communist party (CP) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) enacted their 12th Five-Year Plan for the period between 2011 to 2015. Previous charters were mainly focused on strong economic growth causing severe energy and environmental problems due to very high CO2 emissions. Scientists worldwide agree that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is the main driver for global warming and climate change.

What can be done so limit this development? Can maybe the 12th Five-Year Plan of China act as a good example?

The latest plan of the PRC eventually is giving a slight change to its old philosophy by setting on the agenda “three energy related priorities: the diversification of sources and development of clean energies; energy efficiency and energy conservation; and the development of electric vehicles” (Enerdata Ltd., 2013: 5). By publishing these objectives, the CP acknowledges a previous maldevelopment in energy and environmental aspects, which go hand in hand.

This paper tries to give answers to the following questions:

- What is the status quo of China’s energy market?
- Which environmental problems is China facing?
- What technical challenges exist when turning China’s energy market into a more sustainable one?
- What part can Renewable Energies play to decrease emission?
- What key role does energy efficiency play in China’s energy market?
- What can be a possible outlook?

3. What is China’s energy status quo?

3.1. Introduction

China is a country of superlatives! With more than 1.36 billion people it houses the largest population of the world, by squarekilometers it is the third biggest country and by total GDP it occupies place number two right after the United States of America (see Statista Inc. 2013: BRIC countries). Therefore it is no wonder that also in the field of energy consumption China rose to number one on the podium. On Illustration 3-1 the thirteen countries with the highest primary energy consumption in the year 2012 are listed.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Illustration 3-1 Top 13 countries in primary energy consumption, 2012

In daily speaking energy is usually referred to as electricity. But it has to be noted that primary energy is every renewable or non-renewable energy source that is available in nature such as coal, uranium or solar energy. By turning these primary energies into their better usable forms, secondary energies are created such as electricity, heat or mechanical work. In 2011 in China only 19% of primary energies were transformed into electricity for end-consumption. The other 81% were used in form of coal, gas, biomass or oil directly in production facilities (factories, steel plants, etc.) to power generators, for transportation means such as gasoline, turned into physical products like plastics, used in the chemical industry or for heat production (Enerdata Ltd., 2013: 40).

3.2. Energy demand

In China, energy is mainly demanded and influenced by three huge actors which are the public sector (buildings, companies, institutions, etc.), the private industry sector with its gigantic factories and finally all the private households. As shown in Illustration 3-2 the highest energy demand is driven by the industry. As most of the developing countries shifted production facilities to China, excessively stimulated by growth programs of the communist party, it turned China into the “factory of the world” and one of the largest exporters as well.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Illustration 3-2 Share of Energy Consumption in China, 2011

China’s GDP per capita grew yearly on an average of 12%, which resulted in a fast growing Chinese middle class (calculations based on Statista Inc., 2012: 14) and leads to additional urbanization. This middle class enjoys consumption standards exemplified in developed countries with higher comfort levels and a “personal status” to defend. Therefore sales figures of houses, cars, cooling/heating systems, electric-intensive devices are further increasing and lead to a energy consumption.

When taking these three actors together: industry, government and private households, one can understand the sky rocketing energy demand of China. “The primary consumption per capita remains low, but has increased 2.3-fold since 2000” and “it has increased significantly since 2000 (8.3%/year compared to 2.6%/year, on average, between 1990 and 2000)” (Enerdata Ltd., 2013: 22). This growing demand has to be supplied to, today and in the future!


Excerpt out of 17 pages


China's energy problem
What positive impacts have renewable energies and energy efficiency?
Berlin School of Economics and Law  (IMB Institute of Management Berlin)
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ISBN (Book)
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China, Renewable Energies, Energy Problem, 5-Year-Plan, People's Republic of China, Erik Ackner, World-Wide-Step, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Environment Pollution
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Erik Ackner (Author), 2014, China's energy problem, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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