By Martin SumichrastPresident Obama said in his speech to Congress on Feb. 24, "we know that the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient." If you have any doubt of the direction of China's future energy demands, here is an enlightening tidbit of information: China's auto industry is now the second largest in the world, having just surpassed Japan, and is on track to surpass the U.S. to become the single largest global auto consumer. The number of passenger vehicles sold in China during January was higher than that of the U.S. for the first time, according to the Associated Press. China's status as a global player has historical precedent. According to an economist from the IMF, China has had the greatest GDP for nine out of the last 10 centuries. This growth is backed-up by a recent UBS ( UBS) Wealth Management estimate that U.S. GDP is expected to grow 22% from $14.3 trillion in 2008 to $17.4 trillion in 2014. At the same time, China is expected to grow 119% from $4.2 trillion in 2008 to $9.2 trillion in 2014. Additionally, China's stimulus plan is loaded with infrastructure expansion which will push their energy demand higher. China hasn't waited for the recent global meltdown to understand that it needs to focus on expanding domestic energy production, specifically in the sector of alternative energy. A good example of this is in the area of wind power. While U.S. energy companies are expanding into wind power, they are finding it hard to build them out as U.S. equipment manufacturers' near term supply has already been bought-up by the Chinese. The takeaway message is clear. With an expected doubling of GDP in the next 5-7 years, China needs energy, and lots of it.