While China has an enormous appetite for energy—oil consumption grew 94% over the last decade—it is also taking steps to use less and use smarter. China is restructuring its economy to be less manufacturing intensive with the ambition of a 16% reduction in in energy intensity by 2015 from the 2010 level. The Chinese government also plans to cap coal consumption at 3.9 billion tons by 2015, which is slightly above the 2011 level. China already has the world’s largest solar power capacity at 61 gigawatts and is poised to overtake Germany by the end of the year as the world’s largest market for solar panels. Nuclear power in China is supposed to represent 40% of new installations over the next 30 years. China is also investing heavily in greener fossil fuels such as shale gas and coal-bed methane.
But despite these green ambitions China’s energy use is expected to be double that of the United States by 2040 and without rapid progress toward green energy, that will be quite a shock on the environment.