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China is still major contributor to energy growth, green push needed: analyst

By Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-12-08 23:00

Despite a pullback in the growth rate from previous years, China's economy still represents a major driver of future energy demand, according to a longtime energy industry participant.

"China is still a significant growth market and will contribute about 350,000 barrels a day of oil demand to the market," said Chris Midgley, head of global content analytics for S&P Global Platts, at the company's annual global energy forum in New York on Thursday.

Midgley, who has more than 25 years of experience in the oil industry, was appointed to his current post last September.

At the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress earlier this year, President Xi Jinping put an emphasis on environmental issues to "make the skies of China blue again". The country has undertaken an ambitious green energy strategy to develop renewable energy sources like wind and solar along with encouraging the sale of electric vehicles.

Midgley said the green energy push is needed not only to address pollution concerns, but to meet rising energy demand in the future.

"(Global) oil demand will exceed 100 million barrels a day next year, and that's a figure some observers did not expect to be hit until the middle of the next decade if at all," said Midgley.

He said China's ambitious green energy plans are part of "an energy mix that is going to be required so that we don't double oil demand".

Midgley said the coal-natural gas story in China is interesting. "We do see gas growing very strongly in China but it's not to meet power demand. It's due to replacing coal that is used for domestic heating purposes," he said.

In addition to pollution control, China may have other reasons for promoting electric vehicles (EVs), according to Midgley.

"I believe the push for EVs is not about the car market but dominance in the battery market. They want to be market leaders," he said. "China wants to solve the problem of battery storage and make it more economical."

Midgley said developing battery technology may not only boost EV sales but also could be applied to other areas such as providing backup energy supplies for the grid.

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