I. Current Energy Development
Since the reform and opening-up policy was introduced, China's energy industry has witnessed rapid growth, achieving comprehensive development of coal, electricity, petroleum, natural gas, and new and renewable energy resources, making important contributions to the long-term, steady and rapid growth of the national economy and the sustained improvement of living standards.
-- Remarkable enhancement of energy supply capability and security. In 2011, the output of primary energy equaled 3.18 billion tons of standard coal, ranking first in the world. Of this, raw coal reached 3.52 billion tons; crude oil, 200 million tons; and refined oil products, 270 million tons. The output of natural gas ballooned to 103.1 billion cu m. The installed electricity generating capacity reached 1.06 billion kw, and the annual output of electricity was 4.7 trillion kwh. A comprehensive energy transportation system has developed rapidly. The length of oil pipelines totaled more than 70,000 km, and the natural gas trunk lines exceeded 40,000 km. Electric power grids were linked up throughout the country, and electricity transmission lines of 330 kv or more totaled 179,000 km. The first phase of the national petroleum reserve project was completed, and the country's emergency energy-supply capability keeps improving.
-- Conspicuous achievements in energy conservation. China vigorously promotes energy conservation. During the 1981-2011 period, China's energy consumption increased by 5.82 percent annually, underpinning the 10 percent annual growth of the national economy. From 2006 to 2011, the energy consumption for every 10,000 yuan of GDP dropped by 20.7 percent, saving energy equivalent to 710 million tons of standard coal. The state implemented a series of energy-saving renovations, such as of boilers, electrical machinery, buildings and installation of green lighting products. The gap between the overall energy consumption of China's high energy-consuming products and the advanced international level is narrowing. The energy utilization efficiency of new projects in the heavy and chemical industries, such as non-ferrous metals, building materials and petrochemicals, is up to the world's advanced level. The country has eliminated small thermal power units with a total generating capacity of 80 million kw, saving more than 60 million tons of raw coal annually. In 2011, coal consumption of thermal power supply per kwh was 37 grams of standard coal lower than in 2006, a decrease of 10 percent.
-- Rapid development in non-fossil energy. China has made energetic efforts in developing new and renewable energy resources. In 2011, the installed generating capacity of hydropower reached 230 million kw, ranking first in the world. Fifteen nuclear power generating units were put into operation, with a total installed capacity of 12.54 million kw. Another 26 units, still under construction, were designed with a total installed capacity of 29.24 million kw, leading the world. The installed generating capacity of wind power connected with the country's power grids reached 47 million kw, ranking top in the world. Photovoltaic power generation also reported speedy growth, with a total installed capacity of 3 million kw. Solar water heating covered a total area of 200 million sq m. The state also expedites the use of biogas, geothermal energy, tidal energy and other renewable energy resources. Non-fossil energy accounted for 8 percent of the total primary energy consumption, which means an annual reduction of more than 600 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.
-- Quick advance in science and technology. A fairly complete system of exploration and development technologies has taken shape in the petroleum and natural gas industry, with prospecting and development techniques in geologically complicated regions and the recovery ratio of oilfields leading the world. Oil drilling rigs that are capable of operating at a maximum water depth of 3,000 m have been built. China is now able to independently design and build oil refinery equipment, each set of which boasts an annual output of 10 million tons, and ethylene production plants, each of which has an annual output of one million tons. The country's direct coal liquefaction and coal-to-olefins technologies, for which it owns independent intellectual property rights, have reached the world's advanced level and achieved new breakthroughs in technology. In addition, 60 percent of the country's coal mines have been mechanized, and mechanized underground mining equipment with an annual output of six million tons is installed nationwide. Electric power generating units featuring a large capacity and high parameters, including ultra-supercritical and air-cooled generators each with an installed capacity of one million kw, have been installed widely. The designing and manufacturing of 700,000-kw hydraulic turbine generators have reached the world's advanced level. China is now able to independently design and build one-million-kw pressurized water reactor nuclear power plants, and has made outstanding breakthroughs in the R&D of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and fast reactors. Also, 3,000-kw wind power generators have been mass-produced and 6,000 kw wind power generators have come off the production line. The solar photovoltaic industry has formed a sound manufacturing chain, with an annual output of solar panels accounting for more than 40 percent of the world's total. China leads the world in extra-high-voltage DC/AC power transmission technology and manufacturing.
-- Marked improvement in civil energy use conditions. The state actively promotes civil energy projects and works to enhance the overall level of energy service. Compared with 2006, the per-capita primary energy consumption in 2011 equaled 2.6 tons of standard coal, a 31 percent increase; the per-capita natural gas consumption reached 89.6 cu m, an increase of 110 percent; and the per-capita electricity consumption was 3,493 kw, a 60 percent increase. The first and second west-east gas pipelines have been completed, and more than 180 million people across the country have access to natural gas. The government has invested more than 550 billion yuan in power grid upgrading projects for rural areas, fundamentally improving access to electricity for rural residents. The Qinghai-Tibet electricity network project has been completed, connecting the power grid of the Tibetan plateau with those of the other parts of China. The state is accelerating the construction of electric power facilities in areas that as yet do not have electricity, and has so far ensured that more than 30 million people have access to electricity. Combined heat and power projects with a total installed capacity of 70 million kw have been built in high-altitude and frigid areas in northern China that provide more than 40 million urban residents access to heating.
-- Remarkable progress in environmental protection. The country is quickening the pace of control of coal mining subsidence areas, and establishes and improves the compensation mechanism for the exploitation of coal resources and restoration of the eco-environment. In 2011, the coal washing rate reached 52 percent and the land reclamation rate, 40 percent. Existing power plants have speeded up their desulfurization and denitration upgrading, and coal-fueled generating units with flue gas desulphurization facilities accounted for 90 percent of the national total. Coal-fueled generating units reported a 100-percent installation of dust-cleaning facilities and a 100-percent discharge of waste water up to the relevant standards. The state is intensifying efforts for the development and utilization of coal bed methane (CBM), extracting 11.4 billion sq m of CBM in 2011. China became the first country to adopt a national standard for CBM emissions. Its energy consumption per unit of GDP has dropped over the past five years, eliminating 1.46 billion tons of CO2 discharge.
-- Energy systems and mechanisms gradually improving. The market mechanism is playing an increasingly important role in resource allocation. Investors in the energy field are diversified, and private investment in it keeps growing. Market competition has been introduced into the production and distribution of coal. In the electric power industry, government administrative functions and enterprise management have been separated, as has power production from power transmission, and a supervisory system has taken shape. Energy pricing reform has been deepening, and the pricing mechanism is gradually improving. Relevant policies and measures for the sustainable development of the coal industry have been tried out. The state has also established a feed-in tariff (FIT) system for wind and photovoltaic power generation, and a renewable energy development fund. The legal system of energy-related laws has been strengthened, and a number of laws and regulations have been amended and published in the past few years, including the Energy Conservation Law, Renewable Energy Law, Circular Economy Promotion Law, Law on the Protection of Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines, Regulations on Energy Conservation in Civil Buildings, and Regulations on Energy Conservation by Public Institutions.
As the world's largest energy producer, China mainly relies on its own strength to develop energy, and its rate of self-sufficiency has reached around 90 percent. China's energy development not only guarantees domestic economic and social development, but also makes significant contributions to global energy security. For some time to come, China's industrialization and urbanization will continue to accelerate, and the demand for energy will go on increasing, and so its energy supply will confront increasingly tougher challenges.
-- Prominent resources restraint. China's per-capita average of energy resources is low by world standards. China's per-capita shares of coal, petroleum and natural gas account for 67 percent, 5.4 percent, and 7.5 percent of the world's averages, respectively. Although China has experienced rapid growth in energy consumption over the past few years, its per-capita energy consumption is still low - only one third of the average of developed countries. But as the economy and society progress and living standards improve, China's energy consumption will continue to rise sharply, and there will be a growing restraint on resources.
-- Low energy efficiency. China's industrial structure is yet to be rationalized and the economic growth pattern to be improved. Energy consumption per unit of GDP is much higher than those of developed countries and some newly industrialized countries. Energy-intensive industries are backward in technology. The percentage of energy consumption by the secondary industries, especially the energy-intensive industrial sectors, is too high in the country's total. The energy consumption of four major energy-intensive industries - steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and building materials - accounts for 40 percent of the national total. Low energy efficiency results in high energy consumption for every unit of GDP.
-- Increasing environmental pressure. Extensive development of fossil energy, particularly coal, has had a serious impact on the eco-environment. Large areas of arable land are taken up for other uses or even spoiled, water resources are seriously polluted, the discharge of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and toxic heavy metals remains high, and emissions of ozone and particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) are increasing. For a long time to come, fossil energy will continue to dominate the energy consumption mix, posing a growing challenge for protecting the environment and countering climate change. A more environment-friendly energy mix is urgently needed.
-- Grave challenges to energy security. The country's dependence on foreign energy sources has been increasing in recent years. In particular, the percentage of imported petroleum in the total petroleum consumption has risen from 32 percent at the beginning of the 21st century to the present 57 percent. Marine transportation of petroleum and cross-border pipeline transmission of oil and gas face ever-greater security risks. Price fluctuations in the international energy market make it more difficult to guarantee domestic energy supply. It will not be easy for China to maintain its energy security since its energy reserves are small and its emergency response capability is weak.
-- Reforms called for current systems and mechanisms. Energy-related systems and mechanisms still suffer from some long-term, deep-rooted problems. The energy pricing mechanism is yet to be perfected, and industrial management is still weak. The overall service level needs to be enhanced. Overall, restraints of the current systems and mechanisms have seriously hindered the rational development of the country's energy industry.
The above problems challenging China's energy development are a result of the international energy competition, and China's levels of productivity and development, as well as the country's irrational industrial structure and energy mix, extensive development and utilization of energy resources, and sluggish reform of relevant systems and mechanisms. Therefore, China will vigorously promote the transformation of its energy production and utilization modes, continuously improve its energy policy, and strive to achieve a comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development of its energy, economy, society and eco-environment.