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Country insight – China

Strong growth of renewable power is the key driver of China’s energy transition

Highlights

2% to 14%

Increase in primary energy between 2018 and 2050

-44% to -94%

Decline in coal consumption between 2018 and 2050

34% to 55%

Share of renewables in power generation by 2050

Despite slowing demand growth, China remains the world’s largest primary energy consumer, accounting for over 20% of global consumption in 2050 in all three scenarios
 
Primary energy consumption peaks in all the three scenarios around the first half of the 2030s
 
Coal consumption and its share of primary energy consumption fall steadily in all three scenarios

 

Projections

  • China's economy grows at 3.5% p.a. between 2018 and 2050, down from 9.6% p.a. between 1990 and 2018. 
  • Primary energy consumption in China increases slightly, in all three scenarios. With the economy size nearly tripling from 2018 to 2050, China’s energy intensity declines by over 60% in all scenarios.
  • China’s share in global energy demand drops from 24% in 2018 to 23% in Rapid, 22% in Net Zero and 21% in BAU by 2050. Nonetheless, China remains the world’s largest consumer.
  • Renewables expand rapidly, with an annual growth rate >5.5% p.a. in all scenarios. Renewables’ share of the energy mix increases sharply, reaching 48%, 55% and 23% in Rapid, Net Zero and BAU, respectively.
  • Coal’s share of the China power generation mix declines sharply under all scenarios, falling to 4% in Rapid, 1% in Net Zero and 31% in 2050 in BAU.
  • Production of coal declines in China, dropping by nearly 90% in Rapid, and 57% under BAU.
  • Nuclear power grows quickly in all scenarios, increasing its share of primary energy demand from 2% in 2018, to 11%, 12% or 9% in Rapid, Net Zero and BAU scenarios respectively.
  • Production of natural gas greatly increases in China, by 76% in Rapid and 114% in BAU scenario. Conversely, production of oil declines by 73% in Rapid and 21% in BAU.
  • Under all three scenarios liquids demand in China peaks in the next 5 years, driven by increased efficiency and fuel substitution in industry and mobility.
  • Net CO2 emissions from energy use drop by 99% in the Net Zero scenario, 84% under Rapid and 35% under BAU.