Please wait a minute...

Frontiers of Engineering Management

Front. Eng    2019, Vol. 6 Issue (4) : 467-476
Approach for natural gas to be a primary energy source in China
Weihe HUANG1, Jindian CHEN1(), Chuan FU2, Yan HUANG1
1. China Petroleum and Petrochemical Engineering Institute (CPPEI), Beijing 100044, China
2. China Petroleum and Petrochemical Engineering Institute (CPPEI), Beijing 100044, China; China University of Petroleum (East China), Qingdao 266580, China
Download: PDF(1104 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks

This work reveals the positioning of natural gas in the evolution of world energy and the general law of its development. In the long-term adjustment of energy structure, natural gas has gradually become the primary energy source because of five factors: policy, resources, technology, facilities, and market. To expedite the revolution of energy production and consumption, China must urgently expand the use of natural gas toward a more positive role in complementing coal and renewable energy and prioritize its usage in three areas, namely, urban gas, power generation, and industrial fuel. Natural gas is expected to account for approximately 15% of China’s total energy consumption in the future. For natural gas to be the primary energy, the exploitation of gas resources must be expanded, resource access must be improved, a flexible trade system must be set up, infrastructure investment must be increased, and the security system must be enhanced.

Keywords natural gas      energy revolution      primary energy      utilization areas      approaching means     
Corresponding Author(s): Jindian CHEN   
Just Accepted Date: 24 October 2019   Online First Date: 22 November 2019    Issue Date: 05 December 2019
 Cite this article:   
Weihe HUANG,Jindian CHEN,Chuan FU, et al. Approach for natural gas to be a primary energy source in China[J]. Front. Eng, 2019, 6(4): 467-476.
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Jindian CHEN
Chuan FU
Fig.1  Trends in world’s energy consumption structure and natural gas share in 2010–2040 (British Petroleum(BP), 2017; 2018).
Country Coal reserves
(100 million tons)
Coal reserves ranks Coal consumption
(100 million tons)
Coal consumption
Energy transition period
Coal proportion changes
Natural gas proportion changes
Coal-rich countries USA 2509 1 5.0 3 1910-1965 76→23 5→31
Russia 1604 2 1.4 5 1950-1980 80→31 3→31
Coal-poor countries UK 0.7 - 0.1 - 1965-1993 60→26 0→26
Japan 3.5 - 1.8 4 1955-2003 55→23 0→13
Tab.1  Energy evolution history of typical countries in the world.
Fig.2  Structural changes of natural gas utilization in China and other countries (British Petroleum (BP), 2018).
Time Developing route Goal
Before 2020 Take “control air quality” as the starting point to extend the use of natural gas and enable coal to reach its peak as soon as possible. Increase the usage of natural gas and expedite the clean utilization of fossil fuels. Achieve an energy structure of 58% from coal, 17% from oil, 10% from natural gas, and 15% from non-fossil energy in 2020.
From 2020 to 2035 Take “control carbon emissions” as the starting point to expedite the development of low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable energy, nuclear power, and natural gas. Build a balanced energy supply system that combines oil and gas, low-carbon energy, and clean coal. Achieve an energy structure of 45% from coal, 15% from oil, 15% from natural gas, and 25% from non-fossil energy in 2035.
From 2035 to 2050 Take “sustainable energy supply” as the starting point to reduce the dependence on fossil energy gradually. Build an energy system that is half-non-fossil energy. Achieve an energy structure of 40% from coal, 14% from oil, 17% from natural gas, and 29% from non-fossil energy in 2050.
Tab.2  Three-step strategy for the energy revolution in China.
Fig.3  Direction and scale of coal centralized utilization in 2035.
Research institution Forecast time
Electricity demand in 2020
(trillion kWh)
Electricity demand in 2030
(trillion kWh)
Electricity demand in 2050
(trillion kWh)
National Electric Power Planning Research Center 2017 6.8–7.2 10.0–11.0 12.0–15.0
State Grid Energy Research Institute 2017 7.0–7.6 9.1–11.0 14.3
National Energy Administration 2016 6.8–7.2 - -
China Power Council 2011 - 10.3 12.0–13.0
Recommended power demand - 7.2 10.0 13.0
Tab.3  Power demand forecast table of different institutions.
Coal electricity
(trillion kWh)
Renewable energy, nuclear power, and others
(trillion kWh)
Gas electricity
(trillion kWh)
Gross electricity
(trillion kWh)
2017 4.2 2.0 0.2 6.4
2020 4.7 2.3 0.3 7.3
2035 5.9 4.2–4.4 0.8–1.0 11.1
2050 5.6 6.2–6.4 1.0–1.2 13.1
Tab.4  Future power supply composition table.
Country Urbanization rate
Urban residents gas coverage rate
Gas usage per capita
USA 80 90 770
UK 98 85 752
Japan 91 90 349
China 59 43 164
Tab.5  Urban gas development index table.
New demand for “gas replacing coal”
(×109 m3)
New industrial demand
(×109 m3)
Existing demand
(×109 m3)
(×109 m3)
2020 40 4 76 120
2025 84 15 76 175
2030 100 29 76 205
2035 130 34 76 240
Tab.6  Natural gas demand in industrial fuel area in the future
Type 2017 2020 2035 2050
Coal power 4.1 4.7 5.8 5.6
Hydropower 1.2 1.2 1.5 1.8
Nuclear power 0.2 0.3 1.0 1.5
Wind power 0.3 0.4 0.9 1.2
Solar power 0.1 0.2 0.6 1.4
Gas power 0.2 0.3 1.0 1.2
Others 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.4
Total 6.3 7.3 11.1 13.1
Tab.7  Future electricity generation structure demand table (trillion kWh)
Fig.4  Foundations of natural gas as primary energy and their interacting relations.
1 C N Zou, Q Zhao, G S Zhang, B Xiong (2016). Energy revolution: From a fossil energy era to a new energy era. Natural Gas Industry, 36(1): 1–10 (in Chinese)
2 British Petroleum (BP) (2018). BP statistical review of world, 2018 edition. BP
3 British Petroleum (BP) (2017). BP energy outlook, 2017 edition. BP
4 J Gao, Z D Zhao, S Wu, Y Du, H J Wu (2017). Development of natural gas in typical countries in the world and its enlightenment. International Petroleum Economics, 25(8): 72–80 (in Chinese)
5 J S Zhou, J L Wang (2010). Comparison of foreign natural gas pricing and regulatory modes. China Price, (11): 60–63 (in Chinese)
6 The Comprehensive Group for Energy Consulting and Research (2015). Strategic research on promoting energy revolution of production and consumption. Strategic Study of CAE, 17(9): 11–17 (in Chinese)
7 Ministry of Natural Resources, PRC (2018). China Mineral Resources (2018). Beijing: Geological Publishing House
8 Ministry of Land and Resources, PRC (2017). China Mineral Resources (2017). Beijing: Geological Publishing House
9 The Oil and Gas Department of National Energy Administration, the Resources and Environmental Policy Institute of Development Research Center of the State Council, Strategic Research Center of Oil and Gas Resources of Ministry of Natural Resources (2018). China Natural Gas Development Report (2018). Beijing: Petroleum Industry Press (in Chinese)
10 National Bureau of Statistics (2017). China Energy Statistical Yearbook (2017). Energy Statistics Division of the National Bureau of Statistics. Beijing: China Statistics Press (in Chinese)
11 W H Huang, H L Zheng, M F Li (2019). Development and prospect of oil and gas storage and transportation industry in China. Oil & Gas Storage and Transportation, 38(1): 1–11 (in Chinese)
12 National Development and Reform Commission (2017). Suggestions on Accelerating the Utilization of Natural Gas [2017]1217. National Development and Reform Commission (in Chinese)
13 J Rifkin (2012). The Third Industrial Revolution (in Chinese, trans. Zhang Tiwei and Sun Yuning). Beijing: CITIC Publishing House
14 W H Huang (2017). Interpretation and reflection on “Medium and Long Term Oil and Gas Pipeline Network Planning” in China. China Petroleum Daily, 2017–07–25(002) (in Chinese)
Related articles from Frontiers Journals
[1] Wenzhi ZHAO, Ailin JIA, Guosheng ZHANG. Analysis and countermeasures of natural gas development in China[J]. Front. Eng, 2019, 6(4): 477-484.
[2] He Liu,Jian-wen Yan,Qing-hai Yang. Engineering Philosophy-based Reflections on Efficient Development of Shale Gas in China[J]. Front. Eng, 2015, 2(2): 108-113.
[3] Wen-rui Hu,Jing-wei Bao,Bin Hu. Practice of Unconventional Gas Development and Engineering Management Innovation in China[J]. Front. Eng, 2014, 1(1): 18-29.
Full text