Contrary to popular belief, new research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says that China’s energy consumption will start to level out around 2030 and eventually stabilize in 2050. In 2007 China officially became the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and with its steady rise in population, its energy consumption has gone rapidly up as well. However, as China’s population nears 1.4 billion, the Berkeley Lab says its growth will stop its runaway expansion. Who knew?

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The news comes as a surprise considering that China is the largest consumer of coal in the world and reports that it builds almost one new coal-fired power plant a week. “I think this is very good news,” says co-author of the report, Mark Levine. “There’s been a perception that China’s rising prosperity means runaway growth in energy consumption. Our study shows this won’t be the case.” The study basically notes that with the rapid industrialization in China there was also a rapid acquiring — by the citizens of China — of energy consuming assets.

Levine and his colleagues who worked on the study note that around 2030, the rapid rise will cause the market to saturate and the masses of people acquiring big houses and cars — which has called, recently, for a rapid increase in power generation — will level off and eventually stop. As Levine noted, “once nearly every household owns a refrigerator, a washing machine, air conditioners and other appliances, and once housing area per capita has stabilized, per household electricity growth will slow.” The report also notes that China’s construction of roads and railways will level off around 2030, which will reduce materials use, and they expect a widespread adoption of electric vehicles, which will slow energy consumption. Though the report doesn’t speak of a decreasing use in energy, the idea that someday the rapid growth will stop is promising nonetheless.

Via Science Daily