China surpasses U.S. as top energy consumer

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He also emphasized China’s status as the world’s leader in wind and solar power and said the country was also making “major efforts” in nuclear power.

China has invested heavily in hydroelectric dams, wind turbines and nuclear power plants in an attempt to cut rising reliance on imported oil and gas, which its leaders see as a national security risk.

Still, coal, oil and natural gas are expected to account for most of China’s energy supplies for decades to come.

The country builds dozens of new coal- and gas-fired power plants every year as it attempts to keep pace with double-digit annual increases in electricity consumption.

The country’s flood of new office towers, shopping malls, hotels and apartment complexes are straining generating stations in cities, where demand exceeds supply — forcing the government to order rolling blackouts during the summer.

Improving energy efficiency is a key part of China’s stimulus spending in response to the global downturn.

The communist government is in the midst of a five-year campaign to cut China’s “energy intensity,” the amount of energy consumed for each unit of economic output, by 20 percent from 2005 levels.

The government said this month it has reached the 16 percent mark after shutting down outmoded power plants, steel mills and other facilities. But authorities say China still consumes several times as much energy as the United States, Japan and other developed economies per dollar of output.

Associated Press writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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