China Is Chasing Down More Energy — Lots of It

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: One of the biggest and most underreported environmental stories today is the rapid, massive industrial development taking place in China. The nation is expected to have double-digit GDP growth in coming years. Already, widespread power brownouts have slowed that growth slightly, and the need for more power is accelerating. Currently, the country’s 1.3 billion residents are using the equivalent of one 100-watt light bulb per person, per year. Now imagine, instead of one light bulb, 20 bulbs, two TVs, two cars, a washing machine, and a dishwasher. Add to that the growing demand for power presented by China’s steel, aluminum, and plastics industries. Where will all the power come from? Coal. It’s cheap and abundant in China and is expected to provide 75 percent of the country’s energy through 2020, with 90 percent of new power plants being coal-fired. This will exacerbate what is already a growing environmental catastrophe in a country where conservation and green technologies are catching on, but far too slowly to keep up with exploding demand.