2050 Final Power Consumption in China Might Be Overestimated

The prediction of total electricity consumption in China in 2050 will have a significant influence on the direction of energy investment and the path to a low-carbon energy system. According to the “China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Road Map Study” (hereinafter “2050 RE Roadmap”)[1], the final energy consumption in 2050 will reach 3.2 billion tce, which is equivalent to 26.05 trillion kWh, in which power accounts for 60%. Thus the final power consumption will be around 15.63 trillion kWh. In comparison, China’s total final energy consumption in 2010 was 17.47 trillion kWh, in which total power consumption was 4.19 trillion kWh.

 

China’s per capita power consumption will resemble Japan and Germany rather than US in the future

We analyzed whether the prediction of power consumption in 2050 is reasonable from the perspective of per capita consumption. The per capita power consumption in developed countries is much higher than that in China. Based on natural resources availability and population density, in the future China’s per capita power consumption level will tend to be closer to the mode of Japan and Germany rather than the US.

From 1980 to 2013, the percentage growth of per capita power consumption in Germany, Japan and US was 21%, 66% and 32%, respectively. The growth rate of power consumption has shrunk since 2000. Germany has been stable with only a 6% increase from 2000 to 2013, while Japan and the US experienced a decline during the same period of time.

Proportional changes of electricity in final energy consumption

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Source: Energy Research Institute; Chinese National Bureau of Statistics Note: Convention of kWh, tons of standard oil & coal comes from International Energy Agency.

 

It is highly possible that China’s fi nal power consumption in 2050 is overestimated

We believe the prediction that China’s power consumption in 2050 will reach 15.63 trillion kWh is overestimated. This is even if we take into account the significant increase of the global energy electrification rate, together with factors such as resource endowments and population density in China. In the future, China’s power consumption per capita will tend to be closer to the level of Japan and Germany. If in 2050, China reaches the level of Japan and Germany in 2013, power consumption per capita in China would be 7429 kWh/person[2], and national final power consumption would be around 10 trillion kWh. Assuming that Japan and Germany’s per capita power consumption in 2050 increases by 25%, China would catch up with the level of these two countries at the same time.  Per capita power consumption in China would thus be 9286 kWh, and the national fi nal power consumption would be 12.52 trillion kWh. Our estimates, both 10 trillion kWh and 12.52 trillion kWh are significantly different from the prediction of 15.6 trillion kWh in “2050 RE Roadmap”.

Historical changes of per capita power consumption in Germany, Japan, US and China

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Data source: IEA Key World Energy Statistics

 

Author:Zhao Ang  and Lin Jiaqiao

 

尾注:

[1]China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Road Map Study. Page 7&12. Energy Research Institute, 2015. Link: :http://www.efchina.org/ Attachments/Report/report-20150420/ 中国 2050 高比例可再生能源发展情景暨途径研究 – 摘要报告 .pdf Access: 2015.12.09.
[2]According to the data from International Energy Agency, power consumption per capita in Germany and Japan was 7022 kWh/person and 7836 kWh/person respectively. We use the average of 7429 kWh/person.

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