Engineering professor discusses Chinese energy consumption

Mackenzie Palmer

Surpassing all other countries, China continues to demand the most industrial energy consumption, according to Fred Beach, assistant director for energy and technology policy for the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Beach spoke Thursday on China’s continued success in leading the area of major energy sources as part of the University’s Energy Symposium. He said he focuses his studies on the relationship between China and the global energy demand.

“China’s energy consumption has doubled in 10 years,” Beach said. “China is now number one.”

Beach said the reason that China has such a big lead in the energy industry is because of the country’s large population. With more than 1.3 billion people living mostly on the eastern coast of the country, China has the largest population in the world.

China is not just a leader in the coal business but practically dominates it, Beach said.

“China consumes more coal as a nation than the rest of the world,” Beach said. “It was like someone hit a switch, and they decided to take over.”

This was possibly because of the Chinese government wanting to raise the quality of life of its people, according to Beach. 

“All of the world’s people have every right to live and consume energy like you and I do,” Beach said.

According to Beach, when added to the country’s total population, this consumption rate becomes dangerous because the population then becomes an energy problem. Beach said the number of citizens burning coal as their source of energy in their own homes is a major contributing factor to China’s consumption rate.

Beach said the world should be concerned about China’s rate of energy consumption and use of fossil fuels because an end result could be an increase in global temperatures, causing sea levels to rise and a climate to change

Petroleum engineering senior Gordon Tsai said he liked how Beach broke down the material.

“[It was] interesting how they compare to the U.S.,” Tsai said.

Chemical engineering senior Dylan Gust expressed the same sentiment and said that it was very informative to him as well.

“It was great hearing the macro-perspective,” Gust said. “Knowing this information will aid in my studies.”