In the vast expanse of Central Asia, a complex process unfolds, transforming the natural resources buried beneath its surface into a vital energy source that traverses thousands of kilometers to reach China. This remarkable feat of engineering and cooperation is made possible through the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, jointly operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and local partners.
The journey of this gas begins with a series of crucial treatments: dehydration, desulfurization, and decarbonization. Once prepared, it embarks on an 84-hour, 2,000-kilometer trek eastward, ultimately reaching the Chinese border city of Horgos in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. From here, it fans out to various Chinese regions, including Shanghai, Fuzhou, and Hong Kong.
Data from 2022 underscores the significance of this pipeline; Horgos Station alone delivered approximately 43 billion cubic meters of Central Asian natural gas, accounting for a noteworthy 11.8 percent of China’s gas consumption in that year.
This colossal undertaking exemplifies the spirit of cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, illustrating the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits. China’s efforts in expanding its network of energy partners have yielded promising results. Presently, the country has established the Belt and Road Energy Partnership with 32 nations, fostering mutual cooperation and development.
China’s commitment to energy collaboration extends beyond this partnership. Various regional energy cooperation platforms have emerged, such as the APEC Sustainable Energy Center and the China-ASEAN Clean Energy Cooperation Center. These initiatives promote shared prosperity in the energy sector, aligning with the broader goals of the BRI.
Notably, energy cooperation under the BRI goes beyond economic and social development. It also plays a vital role in enhancing the well-being of people in Belt and Road countries. As an official with the National Energy Administration (NEA) notes, energy collaboration has contributed to the sense of happiness among these nations’ populations.
A compelling example of this positive impact is the Karot hydropower station. This project, the first of its kind under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, became fully operational in June 2022. In just over a year, it generated 3.64 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, meeting the energy needs of more than 5 million residents. Beyond power generation, the project has led to improvements in local livelihoods, including infrastructure development and education support for nearby communities.
Promoting global low-carbon transition stands out as another highlight of energy cooperation under the BRI. In August of a recent year, the city of Xi’an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, dispatched a China-Europe freight train laden with photovoltaic (PV) modules to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. These modules will support a 1-gigawatt PV project in Uzbekistan, generating 2.4 billion kWh of clean energy annually and reducing carbon emissions by up to 2.4 million tonnes.
Li Wenxue, Party chief of LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd., a solar technology giant, highlights their significant contributions to PV projects in the five Central Asian countries. In the past decade, China has undertaken green energy projects with over 100 countries and regions. Moreover, China’s investments in green and low-carbon energy in Belt and Road countries have surpassed those in traditional energy sources.
Looking ahead, the National Energy Administration (NEA) affirms China’s commitment to advancing high-quality energy cooperation under the BRI. The nation aspires to build even closer, greener, and more inclusive energy partnerships in the future.
The China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline and various energy projects across the Belt and Road Initiative exemplify the strength of international cooperation in the energy sector. These endeavors not only drive economic growth and social development but also contribute to global efforts for a sustainable, low-carbon future. China’s ongoing commitment to expanding its “circle of friends” in energy cooperation demonstrates its dedication to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits under the BRI.