If you didn't see the headline yesterday, China surpassed the United States as the number one energy consumer last year. China consumed nearly 2.3 billion metric tons of oil equivalent in 2009 in the form of crude oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources. The U.S. consumed 2.17 billion tons, in comparison.
This may not be alarming for some of you- we all know China makes a good portion of items that end up in the United States. The more alarming trend is how much more energy China consumes now versus a decade ago. These numbers should be alarming as it signals that China is not only consuming much more electricity, but gasoline demand will rise proportionally as well.
In 2000, China consumed 1.11 billion metric tons equivalent while the U.S. consumed 2.27 billion metric tons equivalent. U.S. demand for energy has remained stable, rising as high as 2.32 billion metric tons and falling to a decade low in 2009 to 2.17 billion metric tons equivalent.
To paint a clearer picture, since 2000, China has doubled its consumption of energy while the U.S. has seen a decrease. This isn't necessarily worrisome until you think about how Chinese oil and gasoline demand has risen- and what it will mean for U.S. motorists- that there is a huge competitor buying up oil fields and investing heavily to make sure their people are supplied.
According to Bloomberg: "China’s oil imports gained 48 percent last year and have almost doubled since 2005, according to customs data. The nation increased net crude imports to a record 22.1 million tons in June, or about 5.4 million barrels a day, customs figures show". Just another concern!
While the U.S. is busy branding countries as rogue and refusing to deal or buy their oil, China is making decades long deals to buy their oil and invest in their infrastructure. We can expect that as Chinese demand for oil and gasoline rises that our prices will rise. Less spare capacity and higher global demand will result in prices continuing to climb, perhaps to record highs.
Unfortunately, there seems little that can be done about it besides pushing China to use electric cars- something motorists in the U.S. have resisted up until this point. How can we expect others to use electric cars when we haven't embraced the idea ourselves?