China was the world's largest energy consumer in 2012, with consumption of coal, steel, iron ore, alumina, copper and cement ranking first worldwide. The nation was the world's largest investor in clean energy in 2012, up 20% from the previous year to $67.7 billion.
- Total energy consumption was up 3.9% to the equivalent of 3.62 billion tons of coal.
- Coal consumption was up 2.5%.
- Crude oil consumption was up 6%.
- Natural gas consumption was up 10.2%.
- Electricity consumption was up 5.5%.
- Crude steel consumption is expected to total 700 million tons.
- Cement production was up 14.5% to 2.18 billion tons (around 60% of global total).
- Coal imports hit a record of 290 million tons.
- Iron ore imports were down 8.4% to 743.55 million tons.
- Crude oil imports were up 6.8% to 271.02 million tons.
- Refined oil imports were down 1.9% to 39.82 million tons.
- Natural gas imports were up 31.1% to 42.5 billion cubic meters.
Fossil fuels made up 90.9% of China's total energy consumption in 2012, and the government aims to reduce the percentage to 88.6% by 2015 and 85% by 2020.
China's installed hydropower capacity amounted to 249 million kilowatts by the end of 2012, including 19 million kilowatts installed in 2012. Hydropower accounted for 17.4% of the 4.98 trillion kilowatt hours in total electricity generation in 2012, second to coal's 78.6%
China has the largest wind resources in the world and three-quarters of them are offshore. Its installed wind power capacity amounted to 62.37 million kilowatt as of the end of 2012, including 15.37 million kilowatt installed in 2012. China is the world's largest wind turbine maker.
China's installed nuclear power capacity amounted to 12.57 million kilowatt as of the end of 2012, including 660,000 kilowatt installed in 2012.
The solar power industry is growing fast in China. China installed 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2012, taking the total installed capacity to 8.3 gigawatts. 6.8 gigawatts are expected to be added in 2013. Solar power electricity generation is not popular in China due to much higher costs than coal-fired power plants. China is home to over 400 solar panel makers, which are responsible for over half of the world’s solar power panel output. Since 99% of Chinese-made solar panels are exported, Chinese solar panel makers reported much worse performance and even losses in 2012 due to a global economic downturn. The heavily subsidized industry is facing mounting pressure as the United States and the European Union imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels.
China aims to produce 1% of its renewable energy generation through bioenergy by 2020, such as ethanol-based biofuel, according to the goal set the National Energy Administration.
Laws and Policies
The Renewable Energy Law passed in 2005 explicitly states that the development and the usage of renewable energy is a prioritized area in energy development. Financial subsidies, technical support and other incentives are provided to promote the development. China also has introduced policies to standardize renewable energy products, prevent environmental damage and regulate prices of clean energy.
China invested $67.7 billion in renewable energy in 2012, overtaking the United States as the world’s biggest spender in this regard, according to a Bloomberg research. Investment in renewable energy will total RMB1.8 trillion between 2011 and 2015, according to a report released by Tsinghua University.