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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Residential Electricity Demand in China -- Can Efficiency Reverse the Growth?


The time when energy-related carbon emissions come overwhelmingly from developed countries is coming to a close. China has already overtaken the United States as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The economic growth that China has experienced is not expected to slow down significantly in the long term, which implies continued massive growth in energy demand. This paper draws on the extensive expertise from the China Energy Group at LBNL on forecasting energy consumption in China, but adds to it by exploring the dynamics of demand growth for electricity in the residential sector -- and the realistic potential for coping with it through efficiency. This paper forecasts ownership growth of each product using econometric modeling, in combination with historical trends in China. The products considered (refrigerators, air conditioners, fans, washing machines, lighting, standby power, space heaters, and water heating) account for 90percent of household electricity consumption in China. Using this method, we determine the trend and dynamics of demand growth and its dependence on macroeconomic drivers at a level of detail not accessible by models of a more aggregate nature. In addition, we present scenarios for reducing residential consumption through efficiency measures defined at the product level. The research takes advantage of an analytical framework developed by LBNL (BUENAS) which integrates end use technology parameters into demand forecasting and stock accounting to produce detailed efficiency scenarios, thus allowing for a technologically realistic assessment of efficiency opportunities specifically in the Chinese context.

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