Likely Economic Power of Tomorrow is seen in Power Infrastructure Today

The US is again generating about 4100 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2013 as it did in 2012. The entire OECD (US, Europe, Japan, Australia and South Korea) is generating about 10300 TWh in 2013. The US and the developing economies are getting more economically energy efficient and can get about 1-2% more GDP off of the same power.

China generated about 5300 TWh in 2013. Total power generation was up 7.5% from 2012. This is 30% more power than the USA. China had 14% power growth in 2010 and 11.6% in 2011. So this is a slowdown from that growth.

85% of China’s power is non-residential.
75% was primary or secondary industry.
Any new China power generation needs to match up to its industrial demand profile.

China’s Electricity Council has a projection of its energy needs and construction plans.

The CEC estimates that electricity consumption in 2015 will be between 6,020 TWh and 6,610 TWh, based on lower and upper annual average growth projections of 7.5% and 9.5%, respectively. By 2020, consumption is estimated to range from 8,000 TWh to 8,810 TWh, based on annual average growth rates of 4.6% to 6.6% from 2016.

China’s power generation is at 1180 GW at the end of 2013 and appears on track to about 1300-1400 GW in 2015

Investment in fossil-fueled and especially coal-fired plants fell by more than 26% to Yuan 105.4 billion in 2012, according to the CEC, whereas spending on hydroelectric and nuclear power plants is expected to rise by 14.8% and 14.2% to Yuan 94 billion and Yuan 74 billion, respectively. Investment in wind farms is projected to fall about 20% to Yuan 82.9 billion.


Year     China Electricity TWh    US Electricity TWh
2013     5300                     4100
2014     5800                     4150
2015     6350                     4200
2016     6800                     4250
2017     7200                     4300
2018     7600                     4350
2019     8000                     4400
2020     8500                     4450
2021     9000                     4500
2022     9500                     4550
2023    10000                     4600
2024    10600                     4650
2025    11300                     4700   (might be passing the combined OECD)
2026    12000                     4750
2027    12800                     4800
2028    13700                     4900
2029    14600                     4950
2030    15500                     5000   (triple the USA)

There are unstated error bars on these projections. By 2030, it would range form 12000 TWh to 20000 TWh depending upon how economic growth turned out.

China is going up to about 4.8 billion tons of coal usage per year in 2020.
China has 125 billion tons of coal in its official reserves.
China will keep looking for more coal to prevent reserve depletion.
China will be going deeper and going after lower quality coal.
There is a lot of really deep coal that could be obtained by underground gasification, but this is like developing deepwater oil extraction. It can be done but it would be technologically heroic.

Blocking wind on a massive scale does effect the climate. You are slowing the wind and increasing the temperature.
Hydro will max out in China at about 2000 TWh.
China will have to ramp up its nuclear build in the 2020s to get ready for truly massive deployment to replace coal.
Natural gas would only be a stopgap or a placeholder for some number of years.
If solar was to make a big difference then it has to be scaled to about 100 times the current world level of about 100TWh. Also, solar would need to be able to adapt to higher temperatures to displace industrial process heat that coal provides now.

Between 2025-2050, China will be forced to not just stopping the growth of coal power but rolling it back because of resource limitations (unless they go big to underground coal gasification for a few decades and they would have be able to develop it the massive scale that they need to power their economy.)

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