Until recently, the United States was the largest consumer of energy in the world.
To put that in perspective, Americans make up only 5% of the world’s population and yet consumed 20% of the energy the last year the US was number one.
Now, China, with about 20% of the world’s population, consumes more energy than the US.
In 2010, China consumed 4,190,000,000-megawatt hours of electricity to serve 1.3 billion people, while in 2009, the US consumed 3,741,485,000-megawatt hours of electricity for 310,880,317 people. Source: Wikipedia’s List of countries by electric energy consumption
A better idea might be to compare India to China since these countries have similar sized populations. Nation Master’s energy consumption chart shows India in 6th place with 568,000,000-megawatt hours consumed, while China used more than 7 times that number.
China’s goal is to have a middle class equal to America, which may reach as high as 66% of households.
Do a little math and you soon discover how much energy China may have to produce to support a middle class of about 858 million people, which is 66% of 1.3 billion.
In fact, China may need to produce about 16 billion-megawatt hours of electricity to achieve that goal.
Along with those numbers comes another staggering headache — pollution and a potential environmental disaster of epic proportions.
However, China is struggling to deal with this challenge by going green.
The June 2011, National Geographic Magazine (NGM) asked this question — Can China Go Green? Then attempted to answer it.
NGM said, “No other country is investing so heavily in clean energy. But no other country burns as much coal to fuel its economy.”
One unidentified Beijing-based official said, “China seeks every drop of fuel—every kilowatt and every kilojoule it can get a hold of — for growth.”
“That Chinese consumer revolution has barely begun,” NGM said. “As of 2007, China had 22 cars for every 1,000 people, compared with 451 in the U.S.”
Discover more at China’s Middle Class Expanding, China’s Middle Class Defined, Copy Cat Middle Class in China and The Middle Class Bulge.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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