China's energy transition: features and domestic drivers

Since the beginning of the 1990s, China has been undergoing what
could be termed as an energy transition. The increasing provisioning of
hydrocarbon in international markets is perhaps the most striking feature
of this transformation. Therefore, analysis of the Chinese energy system
frequently leads to geostrategic studies. In this article we analyze, on the one
hand, the features that define the energy transition in China –not exclusively
its dependence on foreign oil markets– highlighting (four) continuities and
(seven) ruptures with the traditional scheme. On the other hand, we study
the relation between those energy transformations and three elements of
China’s current development phase: i) strong growth and changes in industrial
specialization, ii) transportation expansion, and iii) new social patterns deriving
from urbanization and consumption habits. Therefore, if these three elements
of development actually are drivers for China’s energy transition and if they
persist, the current features of the energy transition, including the growing
dependence on external markets, will prevail in the near future.
Enrique Palazuelos Manso
Clara García Fernández-Muro
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