Identifying primary energy requirements in structural path analysis: A case study of China 2012

Bo Zhang, Xue Qu, Jing Meng, Xudong Sun

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Primary energy requirements have close interaction with resource, technology, environment, infrastructure, as well as the socio-economic development. This study links the entire supply chain of the Chinese economy from energy extraction to final consumption by using input-output analysis and structural path analysis. The results show that the domestic primary energy input amounted to 3318.7 Mtce in 2012, of which 49.5% was induced by investment demands. Despite being one of the world's largest energy importers, embodied energy uses (EEUs) in China’s exports were equivalent to about one fourth of its total domestic supply. All Manufacturing sectors accounted for 44.3% of the total EEUs, followed by Construction for 33.3%, Services for 11.6% and Power & Heat for 3.9%. After examining the embodied energy paths, critical economic sectors such as Construction of Buildings, Construction Installation Activities, Transport Via Road, Production and Supply of Electricity and Steam and Processing of Steel Rolling Processing, and supply chain routes starting from final uses to resource extraction such as “Capital formation → Construction of Buildings → Production and Supply of Electricity and Steam → Production and Supply of Electricity and Steam → Mining and Washing of Coal”, were identified as the main contributors to China’s raw coal and other primary energy requirements. Restructuring Chinese economy from manufacturing industries to construction and services with huge economic costs cannot fundamentally conserve energy, owing to their almost identical structures in higher production tiers; more appropriate policies on technology efficiency gains, energy mix improvement, economic structure adjustment and green consumption deserve to be considered in the light of upstream and downstream responsibilities from a systematic viewpoint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-435
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date7 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Embodied energy
  • Input-output analysis
  • Structural path analysis
  • Domestic supply chain
  • Chinese economy

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