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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk Wruff_ajax's Avatar
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    Default China Tops U.S. in Energy Use - Emerges as No. 1 Consumer of Power

    We've known for a long time that this day was coming. It's arrived sooner than expected.



    China Tops U.S. in Energy Use
    Asian Giant Emerges as No. 1 Consumer of Power, Reshaping Oil Markets, Diplomacy


    China has passed the U.S. to become the world's biggest energy consumer, according to new data from the International Energy Agency, a milestone that reflects both China's decades-long burst of economic growth and its rapidly expanding clout as an industrial giant.

    China's ascent marks "a new age in the history of energy," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said in an interview. The country's surging appetite has transformed global energy markets and propped up prices of oil and coal in recent years, and its continued growth stands to have long-term implications for U.S. energy security.

    The Paris-based IEA, energy adviser to most of the world's biggest economies, said China consumed 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent last year, about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2.170 billion tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear power, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower.

    China, meanwhile, disputed the IEA figures, but didn't offer alternative data, according to Zhou Xian, spokesperson for China's top energy agency.

    The U.S. had been the globe's biggest overall energy user since the early 1900s, Mr. Birol said.

    China overtook it at breakneck pace. China's total energy consumption was just half that of the U.S. 10 years ago, but in many of the years since, China saw annual double-digit growth rates. It had been expected to pass the U.S. about five years from now, but took the top position earlier because the global recession hit the U.S. more severely, slowing American industrial activity and energy use.

    China's economic rise has required enormous amounts of energy—especially since much of the past decade's growth was fueled not by consumer demand, as in the U.S., but from energy-intense heavy industry and infrastructure building.

    China's growing energy demands will present new challenges to U.S. foreign policy, as well as to international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate change. China National Petroleum Co., the country's biggest oil company, is pushing forward with oil and gas projects in Iran, despite U.S. efforts to enforce sanctions against the Tehran government.

    Beijing has refused to agree to cap its overall growth in its consumption of fossil fuels, or reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That frustrated President Barack Obama's efforts to forge an international climate agreement at a United Nations summit in Copenhagen last December.

    China instead set a target to reduce emissions intensity—the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product—by 40% to 45% from 2005 levels by 2020. That meant China was agreeing to make its economy more energy efficient—boosting its competitiveness—but not to consume less energy overall.

    China's growth has transformed global energy markets and sustained higher prices for everything from oil to uranium and other natural resources that the country has been consuming. Once, China was a major exporter of both oil and coal. Its increasing reliance on imports has sustained higher energy prices worldwide and underpinned a natural-resource boom in Africa, the Middle East and Australia.

    "There is little doubt that China's growing consumption changes what ability we have to control our own destiny within global energy markets," said David Pumphrey, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "China can now demand a large space inside any energy-policy tent."

    China's rapidly expanding need for energy promises to have major geopolitical implications as it hunts for ways to satisfy its needs. Already, China's rising imports have changed global geopolitics. Chinese oil and coal companies have been looking overseas in their quest to secure energy supplies, pitching the Chinese flag in places like Sudan, which Western companies had largely abandoned under international pressure.

    The most ambitious effort to secure overseas energy supplies was the failed 2005 attempt Cnooc Ltd. to take over California-based Unocal in an $18 billion bid, which was trumped by politics and rival Chevron. Despite a short pullback in the aftermath of that failed deal, Chinese companies have expanded overseas, buying assets in Central Asia, Africa, South America, Canada and even small stakes in the Gulf of Mexico. While their overall overseas footprint is still small compared with that of big international oil companies, these companies are expanding with access to cheap credit through China's state-owned banks.

    Voracious energy demand also helps explain why China—which gets most of its electricity from coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels—passed the U.S. in 2007 as the world's largest emitter of carbon-dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases.

    In the past, being the world's biggest consumer of fossil fuels went hand in hand with being its dominant economy. The question now is whether this will hold true in the future, as nations compete to develop new ways to produce more wealth with less energy. While China is No. 1 in consumption, the U.S. remains the world's biggest economy.

    The U.S. is also by far the biggest per-capita energy consumer, with the average American burning five times as much energy annually as the average Chinese citizen, said Mr. Birol.

    The U.S. also remains the biggest oil consumer by a wide margin, going through roughly 19 million barrels a day on average. China, at about 9.2 million barrels a day, runs a distant second. But many oil analysts believe U.S. crude demand has peaked or is unlikely to grow very much in coming years, because of improved energy efficiency and more stringent vehicle fuel-efficiency regulations.

    China's rise is also helping shift the focus for oil producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Key OPEC states like Saudi Arabia long looked to U.S. oil consumption for guidance in adding new pumping capacity. But in recent years, OPEC states including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have built or started building refineries and storage facilities in Asia. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, now ships more to China than to the U.S.

    Prior to the global economic crisis, China had been expected to become the biggest energy consumer in about five years. Economic malaise and energy-efficiency programs in the U.S. brought forward the date, Mr. Birol said.

    The decreased "energy intensity" of the U.S. economy is a key reason energy investors, such as General Electric, have increasingly looked to China as a driver of growth. Mr. Birol said China requires total energy investments of some $4 trillion over the next 20 years to keep feeding its economy and avoid power blackouts and fuel shortages.

    Mr. Birol, formerly an economist at OPEC, said China is expected to build some 1,000 gigawatts of new power-generation capacity over the next 15 years. That is about equal to the current total electricity-generation capacity in the U.S.—a level achieved over several decades of construction.

    China's energy intensity actually fell during the first phase of its economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s, which was driven by light manufacturing. But in the early 1990s, China became a net oil importer for the first time as its demand finally outpaced domestic supplies. China's energy demand surged again after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

    Before China joined the WTO, most international prognosticators, including the IEA, predicted energy demand would increase at an annual rate of 3% to 4% from 2000 to 2010. Demand wound up growing four times faster than they predicted.

    There is a chance the growth in China's energy appetite could slow, as the pace of industrial expansion slows and energy-efficiency policies backed by the government—such as tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars—take hold.

    In a few years, there won't be much infrastructure left to build. Urbanization will continue, but at a slower pace. And the heavy factory jobs that consume huge amounts of energy may start to shift away to other countries partly as China's workers demand better conditions and higher salaries.

    But the same force that could be moving factory jobs away—rising incomes—could also underpin even greater energy needs as richer Chinese start consuming more. The question is whether China will adopt a low-energy pathway pioneered by places like Japan and Europe or follow a high-energy life-style of big houses and big cars pioneered by the U.S.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...353150310.html
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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk Wruff_ajax's Avatar
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    Hugo Chávez, left, with Chinese energy official Zhang Guobao in April.

    Thirst for Energy Drives Beijing's Global Push

    WASHINGTON—China's emergence as the world's most voracious energy consumer has wide implications for U.S. foreign policy as Beijing moves to sew up energy sources from the Middle East to Latin America, and strives to take a lead in advanced energy technology.

    The Obama administration has emphasized cooperation in its energy diplomacy with Beijing, promoting joint projects on natural-gas exploration and the development of new technologies.

    But behind the scenes, experts say China is seeking resources—and energy leverage—around the world. Over the past year alone Chinese state-owned companies have signed major deals to extract or export oil, gas, coal, uranium and other key natural resources from Canada, Venezuela, Iraq, Australia, Turkmenistan and South Africa.

    "China's main mission is to protect and fuel its growing economy," says Karen Harbert, head of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "And to do that, China is engaged in a concerted campaign to grab conventional energy resources around the world."

    In November, for the first time, China outpaced the U.S. as the largest buyer of Saudi crude oil. Earlier this year, two Chinese warships made a port call in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, the first visit by the modern Chinese navy to the Persian Gulf.

    China's fast-growing demand for petroleum—in large part a reflection of the country's new status as the world's largest automobile market—has raised fears that as the world economy recovers, oil prices could jump again amid competition for supplies. In Washington, concerns about long-term energy security have prompted the Pentagon to launch new efforts to reduce its dependence on petroleum and seek new sources of fuel for military vehicles and planes.

    Oil isn't the only strategic energy resource on China's shopping list. China's coal imports more than doubled in the first five months of this year over the 2009 period, leading some analysts to predict a global scramble for coal reserves as China's appetite increases.

    China's thirst for oil has also increased Beijing's influence in the Middle East and parts of Africa—at the expense, some say, of U.S. clout in those regions. Within the United Nations, Chinese officials have repeatedly watered down more punitive measures aimed at thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions.

    China has also started playing a larger international role, competing for influence in some of the world's most important energy basins. After Baghdad opened up Iraq's oil fields last year to foreign development, Chinese companies poured in and are now the largest foreign players. China also has significant contracts for oil and gas development in Iran.

    China recently completed a 1,100-mile gas pipeline to connect its factories and power plants to the vast gas reserves of Central Asia, part of China's stiff competition with Europe over a key energy source. At the same time, China has become a major buyer of liquefied natural gas from Australia, Malaysia and Qatar.

    It is China's push to adopt and expand more efficient energy technologies—from solar to advanced batteries for electric vehicles—that has raised the most vocal concerns lately in Washington policy circles.

    President Barack Obama often points to the advances being made in China in touting his own clean-energy ambitions, arguing that the U.S. must move swiftly if it wants to keep abreast of its primary Asian competitor. China is now the largest exporter of solar panels and is fast expanding its capacity to produce wind turbines and advanced batteries for electric cars.

    Not everyone thinks the two countries are heading for a tussle over energy.

    "There is no reason we have to be at odds with China on the energy front," says James Woolsey, the former Central Intelligence Agency director who now concentrates on energy technologies. "In many areas, with both of us being major energy importers, our attitudes should align more than diverge."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...462417360.html
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  3. #3
    Sinner's Swing! Jesus H Christ's Avatar
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    Good. China can now take all the blame for destroying the planet. We're off the hook.
    "The less I needed, the better I felt." ~ Charles Bukowski.

  4. #4
    Unchained VF5150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus H Christ View Post
    Good. China can now take all the blame for destroying the planet. We're off the hook.
    Not really.....they have much great population(1.3 billion vs. 300 million) and most of the energy they use is probably to make stuff for America.
    We will always be blamed, right or not. Anyone else would do the same in our position as we have done.


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  5. #5
    Sinner's Swing! Jesus H Christ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VF5150 View Post
    Not really.....they have much great population(1.3 billion vs. 300 million) and most of the energy they use is probably to make stuff for America.
    We will always be blamed, right or not. Anyone else would do the same in our position as we have done.

    Aaarhh....I guess you're right. Pelosi, Reid and their ilk will always blame America first.
    "The less I needed, the better I felt." ~ Charles Bukowski.

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk Wruff_ajax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VF5150 View Post
    Not really.....they have much great population(1.3 billion vs. 300 million) and most of the energy they use is probably to make stuff for America.
    Actually most of the energy China consumes today is used for growth and building infrastructure. Won't be long though before they easily overtake the U.S. as consumers of goods, what with millions upon millions of Chinese moving from the countryside into the cities. Not unlike the industrial revolution in America in the last century, though China on a far far grander scale than anything the world ever saw with the USA.
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  7. #7
    Eruption Naked Wake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VF5150 View Post
    Not really.....they have much great population(1.3 billion vs. 300 million) and most of the energy they use is probably to make stuff for America.
    We will always be blamed, right or not. Anyone else would do the same in our position as we have done.
    hey, if they don't want to manufacture goods for us anymore I have no problem with that. I'd rather see those jobs come back here. The US obviously has no long term growth plans if they don't wish to manufacture things anymore.

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk Wruff_ajax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naked Wake View Post
    hey, if they don't want to manufacture goods for us anymore I have no problem with that. I'd rather see those jobs come back here. The US obviously has no long term growth plans if they don't wish to manufacture things anymore.

    Oh I'm sure the Chinese are quite happy manufacturing goods for the rest of us. That's certainly not gonna change.
    Yeah we should make the stuff ourselves, but we sold all that out long ago, and as you pointed out the US has no long-term growth plans, nor does it appear that we have any designs on bringing those jobs back to the states, nor creating any new jobs for that matter. Evidently Obama's job creation design calls for the US to make a lot of solar panels and "green" stuff,, or something. I'm not certain, as his administration is not at all clear on this.
    The Chinese are light-years ahead in that department too as they're already the worlds largest exporter of solar panels.
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  9. #9
    PM Goo with your concerns OLO's Avatar
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    I will sleep with the TV on tonight in hopes of regaining our spot at the top of the list. I suggest you all do the same.
    ((Just My Two Cents))
    And thats about what its worth.

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    I am doing my part. My 20 year old air conditioning is running even though nobody is home.

  11. #11
    PM Goo with your concerns OLO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls View Post
    I am doing my part. My 20 year old air conditioning is running even though nobody is home.
    America thanks you.
    ((Just My Two Cents))
    And thats about what its worth.

 

 

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