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Country insight – China

Strong growth of renewable power is the key driver of China’s energy transition

Highlights

2% to 14%

Increase in primary energy between 2018 and 2050

-44% to -94%

Decline in coal consumption between 2018 and 2050

34% to 55%

Share of renewables in power generation by 2050

Despite slowing demand growth, China remains the world’s largest primary energy consumer, accounting for over 20% of global consumption in 2050 in all three scenarios
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Primary energy consumption peaks in all the three scenarios around the first half of the 2030s
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Coal consumption and its share of primary energy consumption fall steadily in all three scenarios

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Projections

  • China's economy grows at 3.5% p.a. between 2018 and 2050, down from 9.6% p.a. between 1990 and 2018.?
  • Primary energy consumption in China increases slightly, in all three scenarios. With the economy size nearly tripling from 2018 to 2050, China’s energy intensity declines by over 60% in all scenarios.
  • China’s share in global energy demand drops from 24% in 2018 to 23% in Rapid, 22% in Net Zero and 21% in BAU by 2050. Nonetheless, China remains the world’s largest consumer.
  • Renewables expand rapidly, with an annual growth rate >5.5% p.a. in all scenarios. Renewables’ share of the energy mix increases sharply, reaching 48%, 55% and 23% in Rapid, Net Zero and BAU, respectively.
  • Coal’s share of the China power generation mix declines sharply under all scenarios, falling to 4% in Rapid, 1% in Net Zero and 31% in 2050 in BAU.
  • Production of coal declines in China, dropping by nearly 90% in Rapid, and 57% under BAU.
  • Nuclear power grows quickly in all scenarios, increasing its share of primary energy demand from 2% in 2018, to 11%, 12% or 9% in Rapid, Net Zero and BAU scenarios respectively.
  • Production of natural gas greatly increases in China, by 76% in Rapid and 114% in BAU scenario. Conversely, production of oil declines by 73% in Rapid and 21% in BAU.
  • Under all three scenarios liquids demand in China peaks in the next 5 years, driven by increased efficiency and fuel substitution in industry and mobility.
  • Net CO2 emissions from energy use drop by 99% in the Net Zero scenario, 84% under Rapid and 35% under BAU.
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