June 8 - BP reports China passes US in energy consumption

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As China's economy grows, it appears to have passed the U.S. in terms of total energy consumption.

Back in July 2010, I noted that the International Energy Agency claimed that China had passed the U.S. in terms of total energy consumed.  That IEA report showed that China used 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent, whereas the U.S. used only 2.170 billion tons of oil equivalent.

Now, another observer (and key energy player) has confirmed China's leap to being the top energy consumer.  BP’s 60th annual Statistical Review of World Energy corroborates the IEA's findings, placing China in the top consumer slot as of 2010.  According to BP, China consumed 20.3% of total global energy demand last year.  This beats the U.S., which BP reports consumed 19% of the total global energy demand for 2010.

This reverses the trend for more than the past 100 years, when the United States has been considered to consume more energy than any other country. While energy consumption has traditionally been viewed as directly correlated to GDP, this shift breaks that trend as well. Commentators point to China's increased industrial activity, particularly significant in light of the current state of the American economy.

Interestingly, American energy intensity remains high: the average U.S. citizen uses five times as much energy as does the average Chinese citizen. What will happen when China reaches the energy intensity of the U.S.?

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