Why is GDP energy consumption so high

Relevant statistics show that China's GDP per unit energy consumption (ie energy intensity) in recent years (such as 2000-2004) is 7-9 times that of Japan, more than 3 times that of the United States, and more than 3 times that of the world average. This is an intimidating figure. Are the Chinese squandering energy like this?

It should be said that there is huge potential for energy conservation in China, but it is not fully shown in the comparison of energy consumption per unit of GDP. Although this comparison roughly indicates the space for energy conservation, how big this space is, it needs to be analyzed in detail. International comparisons of energy consumption per unit of output value usually have two methods: exchange rate and purchasing power parity (PPP). The above-mentioned energy consumption intensity of China's GDP is compared according to the exchange rate. The energy consumption is obviously overestimated. It would be more appropriate to use the PP method and take the ratio of the dollar to the renminbi to be about 3.5. Using this scale to evaluate energy intensity, comparing China's energy consumption per unit of GDP with other countries, of course, there is not such a large gap between multiples, and it is not small. We try to use the PP method to evaluate the energy-saving potential based on China's GDP energy consumption in 2005. The total GDP of the country that year was about 15 trillion yuan, which is 4,287.5 billion U.S. dollars at a price ratio of 3.5. If the US energy intensity of 350 tons of standard coal/US$1 million in 2005 is used to calculate the output value of China in 2005, only 1.5 billion tons of standard coal will be needed, which is more than 500 million compared to China’s total energy consumption of more than 2 billion tons of standard coal that year. The saving potential per ton of standard coal is consistent with the estimation of the relevant departments of the Chinese government and is more in line with the actual situation. In fact, the United States is an over-consumption country, and its energy intensity is not the most reasonable. It is not a good example. Therefore, China can have more energy-saving space and greater energy-saving potential.

So, where is this huge energy-saving potential in China distributed? This is what we care about, because everyone needs to know where to start energy-saving. Adjusting the industrial structure, improving the energy structure, technically improving energy efficiency, and strengthening energy management are the four major aspects of energy conservation, and the potential lies here.

First look at the industrial structure. Industry accounts for half of China's total energy consumption, especially heavy and chemical industries. Heavy industry has a high energy consumption, a small contribution to GDP output value, and a small proportion of the tertiary industry with low energy consumption. China's tertiary industry accounts for only about one-third of GDP, which is far below the world average (over 60%) and even lower than developed countries. Industry dominance is an inevitable situation in the development process of developing countries, and developed countries have also experienced periods when industrial output value dominates in the process of industrialization. China is a big country and needs a strong industrial foundation, especially heavy industry. It is an inevitable process that industrial output value dominates in modernization, and it is not surprising. With the development of economy and society, the industrial structure will be continuously adjusted, the proportion of industry will gradually decrease and the proportion of tertiary industry will gradually increase, and the distribution of energy consumption will become more reasonable. Because of this, the current industrial structure has inadvertently left huge room for energy conservation.

energy efficiency

 Tips: Energy Intensity
The energy consumption per unit output value is called energy intensity. It is often used to measure the energy consumption per unit of gross national product (GDP) of a country or region in a certain period of time (such as a year). It is usually expressed as "standard coal 10,000 yuan" to reflect the economic dependence on energy and energy Benefits of utilization. An industry or a department can also use "energy intensity" to compare benefits.
International comparison of energy intensity per unit of GDP is a complicated issue. There are usually two comparison methods: exchange rate and "purchasing power parity" (PPP). The exchange rate calculation may have large deviations, and the purchasing power parity is relatively close to the actual situation. The so-called "purchasing power" refers to the quantity of goods and services that can be purchased in China in one currency unit of each country; Get the same amount of goods or services).

Unit: ton of standard coal / million US dollars




By exchange rate

Calculated by PPP

By exchange rate

Calculated by PPP











European Union















 Table: International comparison of energy consumption per unit output value

Let's talk about the energy structure. China's energy is mainly coal, which accounts for about 70% of the total energy consumption, which is different from the international use of oil and natural gas as the main energy. The energy efficiency of coal is lower than that of oil and natural gas, which affects China's energy intensity, that is, to achieve the same energy consumption per unit of output value, the actual consumption of energy is a bit more. Why is the energy efficiency of coal low? Physically speaking, coal has a much lower calorific value than oil and natural gas. It is also a solid fuel. It consumes a lot of energy during processing and transportation. The ash content of coal is high. The heat left in the ash during use is generally lost. . Oil and natural gas have high energy density, liquids and gases, and have no ash content. They are easy to transport, store, and use. The high energy efficiency is easy to understand.

Energy intensity

Tips: energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is divided into economic energy efficiency and physical energy efficiency. Economic energy efficiency refers to unit output value or energy cost efficiency. Energy consumption per unit of GDP is energy intensity, which is an indicator of economic energy efficiency.
Physical energy efficiency, commonly referred to as "energy efficiency", is commonly known as thermal efficiency. There is also an indicator called energy consumption per unit of product or service, such as energy consumption per ton of steel and electricity consumption per dry watt hour.
We focus on thermal efficiency. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) physical energy efficiency evaluation and calculation method regulations, "energy efficiency" refers to the product of the efficiency of the intermediate links in processing, conversion, storage and transportation after energy production and the end-use efficiency, excluding energy Discount on energy consumed during production. Some people call the "end-use efficiency", for example, the ratio of the steam heat generated by the boiler to the heat generated by the coal entering the furnace as "energy efficiency". That is not correct. Mixing the two together overestimates energy efficiency.

Using coal as the main fuel is the weakness of China's energy structure. However, in today's increasingly urgent situation of the oil crisis, it is unrealistic to rely on oil to improve China's energy structure. It is still possible to produce more natural gas. It is more effective to vigorously develop nuclear energy and renewable energy.

Increasing energy efficiency through technological advancement and exploring energy-saving potential through strengthening management will be specifically described in later chapters. Here is a review of the achievements of China's energy conservation, we can see that the potential for energy conservation is real.

China has great potential for energy conservation, and its energy conservation achievements in the last two decades of the 20th century have been strongly confirmed. In the past 20 years, the national GDP has grown by an average of 9.7% per year, while primary energy has only grown by 4.6% per year. The elasticity of energy is only 0.47, achieving the national goal of "quadrupling the economy and doubling energy consumption". . In the past 20 years, the energy consumption intensity of GDP has dropped from 2.80 tons of standard coal per yuan to 1.4 tons of standard coal per 10,000 yuan, a full drop of half. It can be said that the energy needs of economic development are “half of development and half of conservation”. The industrial structure has not changed much in the past 20 years. Industry has always been the "big head" of energy consumption. Why has the intensity of energy consumption decreased so much? The main reason is the improvement of energy efficiency, which increased from 25.4% in 1980 to 33.4% in 2000, an increase of 8 percentage points. If you use the energy consumption per unit of product to calculate energy efficiency, you can more intuitively see the amazing changes in the past 20 years, and the energy consumption of many industrial products has dropped drastically. For example, the steel is still the same steel, but the energy consumption per ton of steel has been reduced from 2040 kg of standard coal to 784 kg. The annual production of 100 million tons of steel saves more than 100 million tons of standard coal; the electricity is still the same, but the electricity consumption per kilowatt-hour standard The coal dropped from 448 grams to 392 grams, and the annual power generation capacity of thermal power is 1 trillion kilowatt hours, saving tens of millions of tons of standard coal.

However, the energy saving potential is far from end. The new century has begun, and the country has clearly stated that it will take another 20 years, that is, by 2020, to achieve the goal of quadrupling the national economy and doubling energy demand on the basis of 2000, which means the task of energy conservation. It's very difficult. In 2000, the national energy consumption reached 1.3 billion tons of standard coal, doubling that is 2.6 billion tons. It is no longer easy to produce and import this amount of energy. If we do not implement strict conservation, we will continue to develop the economy in an extended way in the past and quadruple energy demand, so that the total energy consumption will reach more than 5 billion tons of standard coal in 2020. , Is simply unimaginable.

Energy saving and environmental protection

 Tips: Energy Consumption Elasticity Coefficient
Energy consumption elasticity coefficient refers to the ratio of the annual growth rate of energy consumption to the annual growth rate of China's gross product (GDP). The larger the ratio, the higher the rate of increase in energy consumption for every 1% increase in national economic output; the smaller the ratio, the lower the rate of increase in energy consumption. The magnitude of the elasticity coefficient of energy consumption is related to factors such as the structure of the national economy, energy utilization efficiency, product quality, raw material consumption, transportation, and people's daily needs.
The history of world economy and energy development shows that in the early stages of industrialization, the economic growth of countries mainly depends on the development of energy-intensive industries, energy efficiency is also low, and the elasticity of energy consumption is usually greater than 1. In the later stages of industrialization, due to the shift of economic structure to service-oriented ( The tertiary industry) and technologically advanced industries, the energy consumption elasticity coefficient is usually less than 1. As long as countries are at a similar stage of development, they have roughly similar energy elastic coefficients.

 If energy cannot be supported, the goal of economic development will be defeated, which shows that the goal of energy conservation must be achieved. There is still potential. For example, China’s energy efficiency in 2000 was only 33.4%, which is more than 10 percentage points behind that of developed countries. If China’s industrial energy efficiency is raised to the international level, it is possible to reduce industrial energy consumption by half. In other words, The energy consumption per unit product of Chinese industry still has half of the saving potential. This is the case in industry, and other industries and life energy use may also be possible, but the current energy conservation situation is not optimistic. In the 21st century, the annual growth rate of China's energy consumption has been above 10%, which is higher than the economic growth rate, and the energy elasticity coefficient is greater than 1. This situation will increase the difficulty of energy conservation in the next ten years, and the alarm must be sounded.