Comparison of China Energy & Electricity Generation with U.S.A.

Energy = Life

It is well documented that China is the world’s largest manufacturer of just about everything. This manufacturing might requires a lot of energy and electricity generation to power it. I first became concerned about the loss of American manufacturing (and jobs) with NAFTA in the 1990’s when my state of North Carolina lost most of the furniture and textile manufacturing. Then, after China entered the WTO (about 2001), the loss of American aluminum (and other industries) became very personal with me. I had worked as a Field Service engineer/Consultant on coal and oil power generation all around the world for ALCOA for 35 years (1977-2012). ALCOA during the 1980’s was the world’s largest alumina and aluminum manufacturer. After China was admitted to the WTO (World Trade Organization) the CCP promptly ramped up their aluminum production from insignificant production in the year 2000 to over 50% of world capacity by 2012. They produced aluminum at very low cost and then sold aluminum ingot (some would say, Dumped) on the London Metal Exchange. The figure below is from a Dick Storm presentation in 2016. The production data is from the International Aluminum Association and the WSJ. My Blog post in Feb. 2021 outlined some of my personal experiences in working for the power plant which powered the massive ALCOA Rockdale Smelting Works in Rockdale, TX.

At about this time, Alcoa was reducing capacity & shutting down refining and smelting capacity. (including the Rockdale Works). I gave a presentation to the (PA) Delaware County Bar Association in 2016 wherin I used my experiences of working with ALCOA to make my point on the importance of reasonable cost, abundant and reliable energy to create jobs and economic prosperity. Local manufacturing and providing high paying jobs ultimately leads to improving Real-Estate markets. Perhaps this is abtract, but that is how I saw it from 1990- 2016.

Then in 2020 I wrote on my Blog regarding the Rise of China and my concerns for American competitiveness. The Blog in 2020 combined my personal experiences of working several decades for ALCOA plus two OLLI courses given at USCB. One course on the “Rise of China” was presented by retired U.S. Army General Craig Whelden and the other on the “Rise, Fall and Rise again of Nations” of the world, presented by Retired Navy Intelligence Officer, Captain Greg Blackburn. So, after thinking about my personal past experiences and then combining the information provided in the OLLI courses, I thought it would be timely to update the energy and electricity generation capacities of China as compared to the U.S.A. I chose to focus on the extreme increase of aluminum production in China (at the expense of U.S. production) because huge amounts of electricity are needed to produce aluminum. Aluminum, of the commonly used metals, requires the greatest amount of electricity to produce. Aluminum smelting requires about 5 kWh per pound of smelted aluminum ingot from alumina powder. Note on the chart below, the growth in electricity generation capacity of China since 2010. This growth was used to increase manufacturing capacity including aluminum production, as noted above.

Most of the electricity generation is from coal as shown on the EIA chart above.

Comparing China’s fuel use for electricity production (above) to the U.S.A. (below). This is an overview of energy and electricity generation capacity in the U.S.A. in 2021 with natural gas being the largest fuel source.

U.S. Has Shut Down Over 102,000 MW of Coal Plants Since 2010

The U.S. has aggressively shut down hundreds of coal power plants and replaced most of the lost generating capacity with natural gas fuel. This was possible as a result of the “Shale Gas Revolution” which produced enormous amounts of natural gas after the perfection of Directional Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing which became commercial about 2010. The two graphs of fuels used for U.S. electric power production are shown below.

China Uses More Than 50% of the World’s Coal Fuel

Comparing China’s coal consumption to the world, we have the graph below. In actuality, China consumes more than 50% of the world’s coal production. This chart is provided by the IEA.

You may say, “So What?” Well, China, Russia and the United Nations are all in agreement that the U.S. and the rest of the western world, the Free World, should stop using Fossil Fuels. Meanwhile, Russia and China are profiting and expanding their influence by using the very fuels that the U.N. and the MSM, WEF and others have decided are harmful for the planet. I will just leave it there for you to decide the U.N. and Environmental Extremists motives for Demonizing Carbon use by the Western World. The top sixteen “Influencers” are identified on my Blog of January 4th. A good friend commented that I forgot to list Al Gore as one of the primary influencers, so perhaps the number should be 17 for top ranked individuals and organizational influencers. No matter the number, they have harmed America’s competitiveness and productive manufacturing capacity.

World CO2 Emissions by Country

Carbon Footprint by Country

According to the European Union‘s Joint Research Centre, total global CO2 emissions increased from 34.1 GT in 2010 to 37.9 GT—an all-time high—in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions on travel and transportation triggered a decrease to 35.962 GT in 2020, but emissions are expected to resume increasing once 2021 totals become available. China is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world, with 11680 Mt (11.680 GT) of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020. This is just over 32% of the world’s total 2020 emissions. The United States released the second-highest amount of carbon emissions at 4.535 GT, or roughly 12.6% of the total global emissions.

Top 10 CO2-emitting countries in the world (Total CO2 in Mt) – EU JRC 2020

  1. China — 11680.42
  2. United States — 4535.30
  3. India — 2411.73
  4. Russia — 1674.23
  5. Japan — 1061.77
  6. Iran — 690.24
  7. Germany — 636.88
  8. South Korea — 621.47
  9. Saudi Arabia — 588.81
  10. Indonesia — 568.27

Total emissions, however, fall short of telling the full story. For example, sharp-eyed observers may notice that the top three emitters are also three of the most populous countries on Earth that also have the largest manufacturing capacity. So it stands to reason that their emissions would be higher than that of countries with a fraction as many residents and less manufacturing.

China’s Planned Future Electricity Generation

To China’s credit, unlike the U.S. they have a rational path forward to transition toward a reduced carbon energy future. However, until the 150 new nuclear plants are completed and increased renewables are installed, China is forging ahead with plenty of conventional generation capacity. As you can see from the aforementioned information, China currently has 2,390 GW of electric generating capacity and the U.S. about 1,200 GW.

China’s Most Recent Announcement of A Major Power Plant Expansion, A 16 GW Wind-Solar and Coal Plant

This was reported in this month’s (Jan. 2023) edition of POWER Magazine: China talks a good game on being “Green” and promoting renewables. The facts are that China’s leaders clearly believe in “A Balanced Generation Portfolio”. Not a bad approach for any country. Let’s get back to China’s latest Press Release:

“A massive, multibillion-dollar renewable and fossil-fuel energy project is underway in China. The installation, being built by China Three Gorges (CTG), includes wind, solar, energy storage and coal-fired power generation.

Ground was broken for the first pilot of the Kubuqi Base project in Dalate Banner, Ordos, Inner Mongolia on Dec. 28, 2022, according to Chinese media. Kubuqi represents an investment of 80 billion yuan ($11.6 billion). Reports said the installation will eventually have 8 GW of solar power capacity, along with 4 GW of wind power, and 4 GW of coal-fired generation, in addition to energy storage.

“The Kubuqi Base project is the world’s largest wind [and] photovoltaic base project developed and constructed in … desert areas,” CTG said in a statement. The company said it wants to build “the Three Gorges on the Great Wall,” which is apparently a reference to CTG’s major 22.5-GW hydropower project on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydro installation and largest power plant of any kind by power generation capacity.”

The capacity of 16,000 MW’s is huge. However, to put it into Reality and perspective, China currently has about 2,390 GW’s of installed electricity generation capacity.

In February 2022, China had 2,390 GW of installed capacity. This is comprised of 17% Hydroelectric, 14 % Wind, 14% Solar and 5% Natural Gas and 2% nuclear, Coal Power generates over 2/3 of China’s electricity. Keeping in mind that Nameplate capacity is not the same as actual generation through the year. China plans to install over 3,000 GW of total generation capacity by 2025. The U.S. by comparison is about 1,200 GW.

The total electricity generation (for China) by fuel from 1990 to 2020 is shown below. This is from the IEA statistics:

China uses about 50% of the world’s coal consumption to power it’s economy, it’s large population and massive manufacturing operations.

According to Carbon Brief.org, China is the world’s largest consumerproducer and importer of coal, with its consumption and production each accounting for around half of the global totals. 

Coal is widely used in China for generating electricity, despite the country’s rapid growth of renewable energy in recent years. 

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, coal accounted for 56% of the country’s total energy consumption in 2021. The ratio signifies a continuous decline from more than 70% in the mid-2000s. Nevertheless, the absolute level of China’s coal use has continued to rise.

Two important metals are steel and aluminum. The best data available shows that China produces more than 50% of both the steel and aluminum needed by the people of the world. This production requires large amounts of primary energy, which for China means, mostly coal fuel.

Conclusions:

  1. China’s carbon dioxide emissions are the largest in the world, about 33% of the world total in 2022.
  2. China has a Rational Energy Policy to increase conventional generation as they move toward reduced carbon production of electricity, including 150 planned new nuclear power plants. China is not sacrificing manufacturing capacity or competitiveness like the U.S. and the rest of the Free World.
  3. China is likely to remain the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminum and steel for the foreseeable future.
  4. American leaders seem to be tone death on the importance of energy to keep America strong.

I thought the summary above would be useful for anyone interested is comparing the energy policies of the U.S. to those in China. In addition to the information provided above, some additional references are provided below for further reading and research.

Yours very truly,

Dick Storm, January 18, 2023

References and links for additional reading and research

  1. Bloomberg, China to Build 150 new nuclear plants, valued about $440 Billion. November 2021: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-11-02/china-climate-goals-hinge-on-440-billion-nuclear-power-plan-to-rival-u-s#xj4y7vzkg
  2. POWER Magazine, 1,000 MW Chinese Coal Plant starts up in Mongolia, Dec 2021: https://www.powermag.com/first-1-gw-unit-of-major-china-coal-fired-plant-comes-online/
  3. U.S.- ASME- Nuclear Status Report July 2022: https://www.asme.org/topics-resources/content/infographic-nuclear-s-aging-issue
  4. U.S. IRA Funds Given to China for Green Power, Cowboy News Jan. 2023: https://cowboystatedaily.com/2022/12/31/energy-dept-gives-more-taxpayer-money-to-chinese-companies-barrasso-demands-answers/
  5. 14.9 GW of Coal Generating Capacity to be shut down in 2022, WUWT January 2022, David Middleton: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/01/12/us-to-shutter-14-9-gw-of-coal-fired-and-add-46-1-gw-of-utility-scale-solar-pv-in-2022/
  6. The Magic Washing Machine, Hans Rosling, TED Talk. Very informative on the importance of energy to improve the quality of life for millions of people living in poverty:  https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_the_magic_washing_machine
  7. World Nuclear Organization. China continues to dominate the market for new nuclear build, with 21 reactors under construction at the end of July 2022. In 2018 China became the first country to commission two new designs – the AP1000 and the EPR. China is marketing the Hualong One for export, a largely indigenous reactor design.:  https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx
  8. Jan 4th Blog, Dick Storm’s Nominations of top 16 Energy Policy Influencers: https://dickstormprobizblog.org/2023/01/04/influencers-of-american-energy-policy/(opens in a new tab)
  9. Rise of China and Need to Reshore American Manufacturing: https://wp.me/p5DzAo-57
  10. IEA China Energy Feb 2022: https://www.iea.org/countries/china
  11. Forbes on China Generating Capacity, about 2,390 GW, Feb 2022: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2022/04/26/coal-to-power-chinas-energy-transition/?sh=7437abc81b9e
  12. EIA China Energy Facts, 2021 : https://www.eia.gov/international/overview/country/CHN
  13. Carbon Brief.org: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-what-does-chinas-coal-push-mean-for-its-climate-goals/
  14. World of CO2 new website, Jan. 2023: https://www.the-world-of-co2.org
  15. Carbon Footprint by country, World Population Review : https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/carbon-footprint-by-country
  16. World Nuclear Association Info on Nuclear Power Contribution to Reducing Manmade Carbon Dioxide Emissions:  https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/nuclear-energy-and-sustainable-development.aspx
  17. BP Statistical Review 2021 (released (July 2022): https://www.bp.com
  18. POWER Magazine, Sonal Patel, Sept 9, 2022, EPA Rules likely to shut down about 86 GW of coal generation in next few years: https://www.powermag.com/group-epas-coordinated-regulatory-assault-on-coal-power-could-push-retirements-beyond-86-gw-by-2030/?oly_enc_id=3247D5884312C9W
  19. China and World Carbon Dioxide emitters Columbia Univ.: https://www.energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/getting-30-60-how-china-s-biggest-coal-power-cement-and-steel-corporations-are-responding-national
  20. Davos 2023, China to Boost Oil Demand by at least 500,000 BBL’s/day: https://energynow.com/2023/01/davos-2023-china-to-boost-oil-demand-by-up-to-500000-bpd/
  21. WSJ, July 19, 2022, Climate Policy Causes Power Shortages : https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-wests-climate-policy-debacle-global-warming-energy-putin-russia-fossil-fuel-power-summer-heat-11658084481
  22. WSJ July 19, 2022, Importance of Nuclear: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-global-nuclear-comeback-green-energy-fossil-fuels-supply-climate-mandates-power-generation-11658170860?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_4&cx_artPos=1&mod=WTRN#cxrecs_s
  23. Canary Media, “China Owns the Solar Supply Chain, Jeopardizing the Energy Transition”, July 23, 2022: https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/solar/china-owns-the-solar-supply-chain-jeopardizing-the-energy-transition?utm_campaign=canary&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=220673447&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9qdplyTWSJwNbSUcaZsyQqMfEGosX_vUIpTFtv0RmnmBdVZVFKyZrThPLeb_nvaJ635TpzDjz8qaeF7K3f2mujCqjbtm3ezmo3tQu9mry8L1boHrk&utm_source=newsletter
  24. IEA Solar Supply Chain Report, July 2022: https://www.iea.org/reports/solar-pv-global-supply-chains?utm_content=buffer2109b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  25. IEA Energy and Food Production: https://www.iea.org/commentaries/how-the-energy-crisis-is-exacerbating-the-food-crisis
  26. Liberty Energy, “Bettering Human Lives Report” An excellent resource to show the importance of energy to living a High Quality of Life: https://www.libertyenergy.com/betteringhumanlivesv2/
  27. WNA Uranium Suppliers: https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/mining-of-uranium/world-uranium-mining-production.aspx
  28. POWER Magazine, August 1, 2022, OSAKI-CoolGen Plant J-Power, Japan: https://www.powermag.com/a-japanese-project-demonstrates-a-carbon-neutrality-pathway-for-coal-power/
  29. Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage, Global CCS: https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/State-of-the-Art-CCS-Technologies-2022.pdf
  30. Global CCS Institute Library:  https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/resources/multimedia-library/
  31. What are SMR’s? By International Atomic Energy Agency: https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/what-are-small-modular-reactors-smrs
  32. Dr. Nicolas Kokel Report on the importance of conventional forms of energy, August 2022: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/energy-transitions-reboot-dr-nicolas-kokel/
  33. Andy May, Petro-Physicist, Report on increased energy use in the world 2020-2021: https://andymaypetrophysicist.com/2023/01/05/energy-use-2020-to-2021/
  34. CLINTEL Scientists on Climate Change info, website: https://clintel.org
  35. World of CO2 new website, Jan. 2023:  https://www.the-world-of-co2.org
  36. Tim Ball, Corruption of Science, 2014: https://www.alachuacounty.us/Depts/epd/EPAC/BOOK%20REVIEW%20-%20‘THE%20DELIBERATE%20CORRUPTION%20OF%20CLIMATE%20SCIENCE%20by%20TIM%20BALL.pdf
  37. Donn Dears New Book, “Clean Energy Crisis”: https://wp.me/p5DzAo-Fg
  38. Bjorn Lomborg Science Direct, Energy and Social Changes, Jan. 2023: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162520304157
  39. CO2 Facts on Climate Change and Science Based Information: https://co2coalition.org
  40. WUWT Weaponizing Alarmism on Climate, Steven Koonin and Jordan Peterson: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2023/01/17/unsettled-climate-and-science-dr-steven-koonin/
  41. State of American Energy Report by API, The Solution is Here!:  https://events.api.org/reports/soae-2023/

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