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China is building 2-3 Coal Plants PER WEEK for the next 10 years [View All]

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Leopolds Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-09-07 02:52 AM
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China is building 2-3 Coal Plants PER WEEK for the next 10 years
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Unlike the USA, Chinese oil production is rising, though slowly (about 1.5% per year). However, their largest oil field, Daqing, has peaked. This makes it quite probable that overall Chinese oil production will go into decline in the next decade. In addition, China became a net importer of oil in 1993 and currently imports about half their requirements. If they, like the USA, lose access to most of their imports over the next 40 years, a decline in domestic production of only 3% per year would bring them to the projected level of oil consumption. As in the case of the USA is is entirely possible that China will try to secure oil supplies outside of normal market channels, so they may end up with a bit more oil than I have projected.


Natural gas production in China has been rising rapidly in recent years, averaging 15% annual growth since 2000 as China pursues an aggressive program of industrialization. So far their production has kept pace with their usage, but a decline parallel to that of oil is inevitable over the next four decades, especially if they attempt to increase their extraction in concert with their economic growth. The derived global mathematical ratio of 25% by 2050 seems reasonable, though it is also reasonable to assume that China will try and secure foreign gas supplies either though long term contracts or military or economic warfare.


It is clear that China has placed enormous emphasis on their large endowment of coal. Recent reports indicate that they have plans to build two or three coal-fired power plants per week for at least the next decade. As a result, it's possible that China may exceed the 6% projected net global growth in coal power by 2050. If they do, it could give a large boost to their GDP and vault them well into the global lead.

There are two factors that could keep China from realizing such advances, however. The first is the problem of the environmental damage done by coal, both from the CO2 production and localized pollution by soot, ash and heavy metals. The extent to which this will restrain China's development of coal power remains to be seen, though the human effects have already become obvious. The second problem is that China's use of coal could exhaust its available reserves before 2050. Relative to the size of its reserves, China uses 4.5 times as much coal as India, 5 times as much coal as the USA, and over 10 times as much as Russia. Since China appears to have almost 50 years' supply of coal reserves remaining, however, we will leave the increase in China's coal use in line with the global model.


The development of the Three Gorges Dam has left no doubt that China is serious about developing its hydro potential. The increase of 40% in hydro power postulated by the model seems entirely achievable, especially given China's apparent willingness to sacrifice ecological concerns in favour of industrial development.


Nuclear power may see its strongest growth in China, growth that will be driven by the need for electricity that produces less greenhouse gases and enabled by the willingness of the central government to ignore the personal wishes of its citizens. It is also likely that there will be less public opposition to nuclear power in China than in the West because of the relative weakness of their environmental movement. China currently has 30 reactors planned and 86 proposed, a full third of the world total. It is quite likely that the contribution of nuclear power proposed by the energy model will be too low in China's case. If that turns out to be the case, its contribution could push their GDP decisively past today's level.
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