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China uses more energy than the United States now 2010-Jul-22 at 08:48 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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From China now world’s biggest energy user, by Carola Hoyos, 19-Jul-2010:

China overtook the US last year to become the world’s biggest energy user, the International Energy Agency revealed on Monday.

Beijing’s new status is expected to make it even more influential in global energy markets, in determining prices and how it is used.

China clinched the top slot more quickly than had been expected because the US has over the past decade far outpaced China in using energy more efficiently. On a per capita basis, the US still uses far more energy than China and remains less efficient than Europe.

A second big consequence of China’s growing heft as an energy consumer is that the country will thus increasingly determine how energy is used on a global scale – from the types of cars manufactured to the kinds of power plants built. This means China will also determine energy consumption patterns outside its borders. “There will be a big multiplier effect,” Mr Birol said.

What does this mean? As Thomas Barnett talks about all the time, demand drives supply, and China’s leadership knows damn well that the supply of energy that they eventually need will be far greater than is supportable with oil and coal, both economically and ecologically.  The shift to clean energy will not be driven by Western do-gooder ideas, but by the hard facts of supplying over 1.2B people with enough electricity to run a modern life over the next couple of decades, some of whom don’t even have any power lines yet.

(And don’t forget India, which is facing the same questions for their 1,000,000,000+ people.)

The technologies we need to move energy production forward (namely, nanotechnology-based manufacturing, and improvements in photovoltaics and batteries) are coming, and coming soon, because the demand for them is so high, and the profit motive for creating them is so strong.  We also know that they’re coming soon because the exponential growth curves for the development of these technologies are running smoothly and right on time to deliver 100% of the world’s energy needs through solar in less than 20 years.

And don’t get all Green on this, thinking that profit motive being involved is a bad thing.  In an Integral economy, we think about having four bottom-lines, one in each quadrant, and the upper-right quadrant still has profit as one of its drivers.  That’s a good thing… as long as it’s not the only driver, as it so frequently is today.

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