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May 13 China, the world's top greenhouse gas
emitter, has invested hugely in coal-fired power stations to
keep economic expansion on track and, more recently, renewables
to lessen some of the damage done by coal.
The government is under pressure from rich nations to curb
emissions growth as part of negotiations on a broader pact to
fight climate change, which the United Nations hopes to seal in
Following are some facts about the unprecedented rate of
power capacity growth in China.
The government fast-tracked the construction of hundreds of
new power plants throughout the country and the unprecedented
jump in capacity has only recently started to slow.
* China's total power generating capacity rose by more than
250 percent from 2000-2008 to reach a total of 792.5 gigawatts.
* China's power capacity is now the second biggest in the
world, behind only the United States -- which had more than
1,000 gigawatts by the end of 2007 -- with Japan a distant
third. On current growth rates, China is projected to overtake
the United States as the world's biggest power producer by
* China consumed 3.4268 trillion kilowatt-hours of
electricity in 2008, up 5.23 percent, equivalent to around 7
kilowatt-hours per day per person. In 2007, the United States
consumed more than 30 kilowatt-hours per person per day.
* In 1980, China's total installed capacity stood at just
65 gigawatts. Ten years later the figure had doubled and by
1998 it had doubled again.
* The average annual growth rate from 2003 to 2008 stood at
87.2 gigawatts, higher than the country's total capacity of 87
GW in 1986.
* The 116 GW increase between 2006 and 2007 was more than
the entire power generation capacity of France. The increase
over 2007-8, though slower at 74.5 GW, was almost equal to
Britain's total accumulated capacity that year.
* Despite the economic slowdown, China is still expected to
boost power generating capacity by 80 GW this year, the China
Electricity Council has forecast. The following table shows
China's total power generating capacity at the end of 2008,
according to the CEC.
Capacity % Growth % of total
Thermal* 601 GW 8.15 75.87
Hydro 171.5 GW 15.68 21.64
Wind 8.94 GW 126.79 1.13
Nuclear 9.1 GW 1.15
Solar >0.1 GW 0.01
Total 792.53 GW 10.34 100
*Coal and oil
The following table shows the latest official capacity
targets for 2020.
Capacity % Growth % of total
Thermal 1,000 GW 66 66.7
Hydro 300 GW 75 20
Wind 100 GW 1,018 6.67
Nuclear 60 GW 559 4
Solar 1.8 GW 1,700 0.12
Total 1,500 GW 89 100
Chinese coal output has also been rising rapidly, up from
1.3 billion tonnes in 2000 to 2.72 billion tonnes last year.
Government estimates predict that the figure will exceed 3
billion tonnes by 2010. If total thermal power capacity reaches
1,000 GW by 2020, that alone would require 3.4 billion tonnes
of coal, according to Fang Junshi, head of the coal department
at China's National Energy Administration.
China produced 189 million tonnes of crude oil in 2008,
amounting to 3.78 million barrels a day and more than most OPEC
member states. In 2007, it was still the fifth biggest oil
producer in the world with 4.8 percent of total global output,
behind only Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States and Iran.
However, despite a long campaign to replace depleting
reserves at China's ageing oil fields in the east, production
Imports have been steadily rising, reaching 178.88 million
tonnes (3.58 million barrels per day) in 2008, up 9.6 percent
compared to 2007.
Monthly car sales have regularly exceeded those in the
United States this year, making China the world's biggest
market, but there is still plenty of room for further
By the end of 2008, there were 24.3 million cars on China's
roads, up 28 percent compared to 2007, but covering less than 2
percent of the total population.
(Sources: Reuters, China Electricity Council, U.S.
Department of Energy, International Energy Agency)
(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by David Fogarty)