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Country insight – China

Despite slower economic growth, China’s primary energy demand rose by 4.3% in 2018, the highest since 2012. China’s energy mix continued to evolve

Fast facts

1    China accounted for 24% of global energy consumption and 34% of global energy consumption growth in 2018; China was the largest contributor to global growth for the 18th consecutive year

 

2    China’s gas consumption increased by 18% in 2018, accounting for 22% of global gas consumption net growth

 

3    The share of coal in China’s primary energy mix declined to 58% in 2018 from 60% in 2017 and 72% just 10 years ago

+4.3% – Growth in China's energy consumption
Growth in China’s energy consumption
+18% – Growth in China’s gas consumption
Growth in China’s gas consumption
+51% – Growth in China’s solar power consumption
Growth in China’s solar power consumption
+2.2% – Growth in China’s CO2 emissions
Growth in China’s CO2 emissions

At a glance

  • Energy consumption increased at 4.3% in 2018, from 3.3% in 2017 and a 10-year average of 3.9%.
  • China remained the world’s largest energy consumer, accounting for 24% of global energy consumption and contributing 34% of global energy demand growth in 2018.
  • Among the fossil fuels, consumption growth was led by natural gas (+18%) and oil (+5.0%), while coal use rose (+0.9%), the second consecutive year of growth. 
  • China’s energy mix continued to evolve. While coal remained the dominant fuel, its share of total energy consumption in 2018 (58%) hit a historical low. 
  • China’s renewables consumption grew by 29% in 2018, accounting for 45% of global renewables consumption growth. 
  • China is the largest importer of oil and natural gas in the world. The import dependency on oil rose to 72% in 2018, the highest in the past half century. The import dependency on gas increased to 43% in 2018. Concerns about energy security are increasing.
  • Coal supply continued to grow (+4.7%), the second year of expansion since supply side reforms started in 2016.
  • To meet strong domestic demand, coal imports expanded for the second consecutive year.
  • Natural gas production increased by 12 Bcm (+8.3%) to 162 Bcm. 
  • Among non-fossil fuels, solar consumption grew the fastest (+51%), followed by wind (+24%) and biomass & geothermal (+14%). Hydro grew by 3.2%, nearly one third the 10-year average growth of 9.2%. 
  • China’s nuclear power generation increased by 19%, above the 10-year average growth of 15%. China accounted for 74% of the global nuclear power increment.
  • China’s CO2 emissions from energy use increased by 2.2% in 2018, a significant rebound from the 0.5% p.a. growth of previous five years.
  • China’s energy intensity fell by 2.2% in 2018, slower than the 10-year average growth of -4.0%.