China Energy Programme

Launched in 2019 the OIES China Energy Research Programme, is a center of analytical excellence offering insights into the factors that inform China’s energy policies and choices and their pivotal role in global energy markets.

China is the world’s second largest economy, biggest importer of crude oil, the fastest growing consumer of natural gas as well as the world’s top coal producer and emitter of CO2. The country is endowed with vast reserves of oil, gas and coal all of which it aims to develop in order to enhance its energy security, but, it is also seeking to spearhead a technological revolution in support of its energy transition. 

In light of its voracious appetite for energy, its domestic resource potential and its technological ambitions, the way in which China chooses to develop its domestic resource base, consume energy and engage with global markets is of extreme importance to producers, consumers and traders of energy. But the country’s command economy, alongside the dominance of state-owned companies still inform policy design and implementation and are key to understanding the evolution of China’s energy mix and markets.

The China Energy Programme at OIES delves into these developments and offers insights into the factors that inform China’s energy policies and choices.

Research is structured around three main themes:

  • Macro the programme analyses the macroeconomic and political environment in China: what are the government’s policy priorities and how do they impact energy demand? To what extent do the country’s political and governance frameworks help or hinder achieving these goals? The programme assesses various government-set targets and the extent to which the political imperative to meet them could turn them into disruptive events. How will market liberalisation develop, and how will it impact relations between state owned incumbents and private and foreign companies? How does China’s foreign policy relate to its energy goals? What does China’s 2060 carbon neutrality pledge mean for the energy sector and investments along the Belt and Road?
  • Mix what will China’s energy transition mean for its energy mix? How does China think about peak coal and oil and what are the implications for gas consumption? Are the government’s environmental policies sustainable in a low growth environment? Can China replicate its PV success with EVs and more advanced technologies?
  • Markets the programme also monitors short term developments in the oil and gas markets in China. It assesses how China is shaping short term prices and market sentiment and also considers Beijing’s efforts to establish pricing hubs and become an active price maker.

Programme Sponsors

  • BP
  • Cheniere
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, UK (DESNZ)
  • Equinor
  • Ministry of Defence, UK
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Tellurian
  • TotalEnergies
  • Vitol
  • William Callanan

The Programme is grateful to its Sponsors for their support, without which its research would not be possible.

Research is carried out by the programme staff in close coordination with the other OIES programmes and in collaboration with leading researchers and institutes in China and the West. Research will be disseminated via a dedicated research paper series, energy comments, sponsors’ visits, and specialised events.

For information about the programme and questions, please email: Michal Meidan

Latest Publications from the China Energy Research Programme

Latest Ongoing Research from the China Energy Research Programme

  • Decarbonising the Chinese steel sector: Drivers and challenges

    China’s steel sector matters in the global green transition. Decarbonising global industry is the next frontier in the transition to greener economies. Steel production accounts for 7% of global emissions. More than half of the world’s steel is produced in China. However, China’s steel production has some of the highest carbon intensities in the world. […]

    By: Belinda Schäpe

  • Prospects of the Chinese coal chemical industry in an increasingly carbon-constrained world

    The coal chemical industry utilises coal as both energy and feedstock to produce gases, liquids and solids, which are then synthesised into various fuels and chemicals. In China, it is generally classified into two categories: traditional versus modern coal chemicals. In 2020, the Chinese coal chemical industry processes near one quarter of national coal throughput, […]

    By: Kevin Jianjun Tu

  • China’s solar industry at an inflection point

    The development of China’s solar photovoltaics sector may be one of the best witnesses of China’s economic rise and globalization. Having benefited from a free cross-border flow of talent, capital, and technology, China’s solar PV sector took over decades of Western expertise and began to dominate the global market in as short as a decade. […]

    By: Linxiao Zhu