Global Processing

China aims to develop shale gas industry

February 3, 2014

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Chinese authorities are looking for ways to respond to climate change swiftly and effectively, turning their attention towards fracking and other non-conventional methods for energy production in the hope that the country will be able to radically cut down on its coal use.

China's energy generation mostly relies on coal, but as its economy has developed rapidly in recent years the demand for energy has also increased, resulting in China becoming the largest carbon dioxide polluter in the world. Air quality in the country has also dramatically deteriorated, putting the lives of millions at risk, the Scientific American reported. These factors have been the main driving forces for the Chinese government to actively seek alternatives.

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Reserves of shale gas are bountiful under the vast territory of the country but extracting it may prove more difficult that it seems. It requires expertise and infrastructure, neither of which is available in the Asian state. But helping fracking in China to lift off is of international importance too, so the United States has teamed up with China in pursuit of a common strategic interest, according to David Sandalow, an inaugural fellow at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy.

Official Chinese figures show that the estimated amount of recoverable shale gas is 25 trillion cubic meters, extracted from eight basins. But the U.S. Department of Energy has calculated that China's reserves could be about 36 trillion cubic meters, compared to 24 trillion cubic meters in the United States. Clearly, if regulation allows it, China could turn into the world's largest shale gas producer, the Scientific American concluded.