What Powers China

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"What does it take keep the world’s largest consumer of energy powered? National Geographic photographer Toby Smith spent two years deep inside of China in search of this answer, and found a country that relies on much more than coal for its energy."

What does it take keep the world’s largest consumer of energy powered? National Geographic photographer Toby Smith spent two years deep inside of China in search of this answer, and found a country that relies on much more than coal for its energy.

The result is a fascinating and comprehensive slideshow offering viewers a "Rare Look Inside China’s Energy Machines." His photographs illustrate the massive infrastructure, development and engineering taking place around China today.

Energy around the world has become a lot more varied over the past few centuries. Only 100 years ago, wood and coal were the only two sources. Fast forward to today, and the global energy picture is much more diverse, with the use of oil, gas, hydropower and nuclear energy to power our cities, farms, homes and vehicles. Since 1970, renewables have emerged as an additional energy source and are expected to outpace hydropower by 2040.

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To capture China’s use of energy, Toby Smith traveled to 11 provinces, snapping pictures of solar panels, wind turbines, power plants and hydropower stations. In Inner Mongolia, he photographed a blast furnace where the country develops its steel, an open cast mine in the top producing area in China, and a coal-fired power plant that relies on steam to turn its turbines.

In Shandong Province, he visited a paper mill and an oil and gas refinery that uses agricultural waste (mostly cotton stalks) to generate electricity. In a port in Guangxi, he saw coal unloaded from Indonesia. In Sichuan Province, he captured an underground turbine hall used for hydroelectricity and a shale gas development, where some of the largest stores of natural gas are found.

Frank Holmes, U.S. Global Investors

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