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Patterns of Economic Development

Energy

Petroleum-rich Southwest Asia has few other sources for energy. India has immense hydroelectric potential, and about half the electricity generated there comes from waterpower. Nonetheless, much of the energy consumed in rural India continues to be derived from the burning of dung and brushwood. Both China and Japan have shown that small-scale hydroelectric plants can be effective providers of energy to small towns and rural areas. China has thousands of small hydroelectric plants, concentrated mainly in the south, in addition to about 20 large plants. Coal, however, remains China’s chief energy source. In Japan, petroleum is the largest energy source and almost all of it is imported. Siberia has great hydroelectric potential that has only recently begun to be tapped. In Southeast Asia, oil production is substantial in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, but the chief domestic sources of energy are waterpower and fuelwood.

Although overall energy production has increased greatly since the 1960s, energy consumption per capita remains extremely low in most Asian countries. The more economically developed countries or areas have moderate to high consumption levels. These include Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Russian Asia, and the states of Central Asia.

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