Keywords: biomass, China, commercial energy, energy transition, expenditure, income, rural household
The energy transition in rural China
Based on an analysis of a nationally representative rural household survey and various sources of aggregate statistics, we explore patterns of residential energy use in rural China within the conceptual framework of the energy transition. We find that residential energy consumption varies tremendously across geographic regions due to disparities of access to different energy sources, prices, climate, income and urbanisation level. Household demographic characteristics, in particular household size, have an important impact on residential energy use. Aggregate time series data show that the transition from biomass to modern commercial sources is still at an early stage, and cross-sectional data suggest that incomes may have to rise substantially in order for absolute biomass use to fall. We also find that energy use patterns as a function of net income, rather than total expenditure, are more consistent with the energy transition model in rural China.