Framing the picture of energy consumption in China

  • Biying YuEmail author
  • Guangpu Zhao
  • Runying An
Original Paper


China plays a critical role in global carbon reduction in the context of mitigating climate change as the essence of climate change and the associated environmental issues is energy consumption, especially the combustion of fossil fuels. This paper provides a clear picture of China’s energy consumption in the past, present and future to facilitate the understanding of what has happened, the main cause and what is likely coming. First, an extended energy flow chart is presented based on the adjusted energy balance table for China, and the detailed energy chains of final services, subsectors and the corresponding technologies are linked to the chart. This work enriches the information about sources of energy demand and contributes to the identification of key areas that should be given priority for energy transitions and technological innovations. Second, three development modes describing the relationship between energy consumption and GDP per capita are proposed based on the experiences of developed countries, and it is noted that China’s trajectory is more likely to follow the medium or low energy consumption modes. Finally, the future energy demand of China is projected in a more comprehensive and precise manner by summarizing and comparing the results of outlook reports published by well-known international organizations. The overall trend is that China’s energy consumption will continue to grow, while the growth rate will gradually slow.


Energy flow chart Energy consumption patterns Energy outlook China 



The authors acknowledge financial support received through National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0602603) and from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 71822401, 71603020, 71521002 and 71642004), Key Project of Beijing Social Science Foundation Research Base (Grant No. 18JDGLB039) and the support from the Joint Development Program of Beijing Municipal Commission of Education. We are also thankful for the support provided by CEEP-BIT colleagues.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Energy and Environmental Policy ResearchBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Management and EconomicsBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Key Lab of Energy Economics and Environmental ManagementBeijingChina
  4. 4.Sustainable Development Research Institute for Economy and Society of BeijingBeijingChina

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