China’s energy outlook

On 17th October 2012, the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London, hosted a talk given by Professor Han Wenke and Dr Yang Yufeng about their book: China Energy Outlook. For the first time, the Chinese government has published (in September 2012) its own assessment of China’s energy outlook. This is the first presentation of this important publication given by the lead authors outside China.

Professor Han is the Director General of Energy Research Institute (ERI) at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). He has a long and rich experience of energy policy research, related with China’s national and regional energy development strategy and planning; petroleum, natural gas and power industrial strategy and planning; commercialisation of new energy and renewable energy; energy market and energy pricing reform; sustainable energy development; and energy conservation. Dr Yang is the Deputy Director of the Energy Systems Analysis Centre at ERI. His research fields include short, mid and long-term energy supply and demand balance and projection analysis; energy development trends and energy strategies, energy policy analysis for each five year energy master plan. He is also involved in work to build a ‘national energy data and forecasting system’ for the National Energy Administration. Both Professor Han and Dr Yang write reports for the government on energy economic situations and energy policies.

The Outlook covers the period of China’s latest (12th) Five Year Plan from 2011 to 2015. This 12th Five Year Plan is a crucial time for China. The recent financial crisis has pushed the global economy into a period of transformation and adjustment. Countries have put great effort into developing new structures and strategies to invigorate their economic growth. China’s economy was also effected by the global economic crisis. China has realised that its export-oriented economy, which is heavily reliant on energy resources, is no longer sustainable. Therefore, energy reform is required.

The Outlook assesses China’s future energy needs, taking into account the continuing industrialisation and urbanisation, as well as the government’s policies to promote energy efficiency, and cleaner and higher value-added industries. It discusses the implications for China’s energy sectors, and for international energy trade, and draws some conclusions for the international community on energy security and the struggle against climate change. It gives ten recommendations on energy development and policies.

In the discussion, the authors confirmed that coal will still play an important role in power generation over the next 25 years. However, China should change the current power supply situation where coal is transported from the north and west of China to the southeast coastal regions. Instead, China should increase energy imports to balance supply and demand in order to reduce the pressure on the transportation system and to protect the environment. The authors also suggested that China’s storage systems for oil, natural gas and coal need to be strengthened and improved.

IEA CCC blogs give the opinions of the authors, which are not necessarily those of the Clean Coal Centre