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China’s Efforts at Industrial Energy Efficiency Are Proving Ineffective

The Chinese government has attached much importance to energy efficient industrial development in recent years through heavy investment and a series of policies and measures. However, problems still hobble the development of its energy efficiency industry, including the generally small size of companies in China and difficulties in paying for implementation of any policy under the current financing system.

Several projects addressing energy consumption control were discussed and deployed as a result of the State Council meeting that took place at the beginning of this year. The 2013 government work reports issued by the National People’s congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, stated in no uncertain terms that energy saving and cyclic utilization must be aggressively applied with a focus on energy saving across the manufacturing and transportation sectors and in buildings both public and private.  That focus extends to energy consumption control, material consumption reduction and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The main areas targeted for improvement will shift from the previously stated “elimination of outdated methods of production” in 2012 to a newly stated “equipment upgrades of leading enterprises” in 2013.

Statistics show that during the five years spanning 2007-2012, China’s total energy usage maintained a steady year on year increase, reaching 3.62 billion tons of standard coal equivalent in 2012, up an average 4.08 percent year on year, ranking the country as the world’s second largest energy consumer after the U.S. China’s industrial energy consumption accounted for 71.5 percent of the country’s total energy consumption in 2005 and accounted for 73 percent in 2012.

According to the 2012 China Energy Saving Service Industry Report, from 1990 to 2011, unit GDP energy consumption had decreased 56 percent, and unit GDP carbon dioxide emissions had decreased 58 percent. However, during the same 21 years, total energy consumption increased by a factor of 3.5 while total carbon dioxide emissions increased by a factor of 3.4. 

During 2012, the pressure to save energy alleviated as growth of the industries that consume vast amounts of power saw a decrease as part of the general economic slowdown. Nevertheless, China’s industrialization is still not complete and its demand for power remains high with total energy consumption expected to continue increasing over the next ten years.

Experts expect that until China reduces gas emissions and further completes the systems and mechanisms needed to save energy, the rate of increase of the country’s unit GDP energy consumption will remain high and is on track to reach 3.7 percent in 2013. China earlier announced that it aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP 16 percent by 2015.

Lead image: Hong Kong smog via Shutterstock

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