Population and Environment

, Volume 33, Issue 2–3, pp 202–220 | Cite as

Energy consumption patterns in the process of China’s urbanization

  • Wenji Zhou
  • Bing ZhuEmail author
  • Dingjiang Chen
  • Charla Griffy-Brown
  • Yaoyao Ma
  • Weiyang Fei
Original Paper


Urbanization has transformed daily lives and industrial production in China. We investigate the effects of this process on Chinese energy consumption patterns. Three energy-consuming sectors intricately associated with urbanization are identified and analyzed: residential households, transportation, and the building materials industry. Urbanization has profoundly affected each; moreover, the latter two are high energy consumption and potentially high carbon producing. We estimate energy consumption attributable to each sector to quantitatively evaluate their impacts on societal transition. Transportation and the production of building materials are identified as the most significant linkages from urbanization to energy consumption. Strikingly, despite the large increase in the proportion of the population that is urban, the share of urban energy consumption, as estimated here, in total energy consumption has remained stable. This suggests that economic growth, in the form of the production of goods for export and domestic consumption, is the most important driver of energy demand in China.


Urbanization Energy consumption Circular economy Low carbon economy China 



The authors greatly appreciate the comments from anonymous reviewers and the guest editor, who provided valuable insights and helpful information for this study. We are also grateful to the Ministry of Science and Technology of China for its financial support (No. 2009BAC64B01).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenji Zhou
    • 1
  • Bing Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Dingjiang Chen
    • 1
  • Charla Griffy-Brown
    • 3
  • Yaoyao Ma
    • 1
  • Weiyang Fei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Energy ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria
  3. 3.Graziadio School of BusinessPepperdine UniversityLos AngelesUSA

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