ASIA will become the world's leader in energy consumption by 2000, with China firing the engines of demand. About 47 per cent of the overall increase in energy demand in Asia between 1995 and 2015 will come from China, DRI/McGraw-Hill predicts in a study. By 2010, China would consume more energy than all of Western Europe, while India's consumption would rise 18 per cent, the study said. Together, they would account for almost one-third of the world's increase in energy consumption. Asia would outpace North America by 2000 and by 2015 its energy consumption will be 50 per cent higher than that of North America, the firm's Global Energy Group reported. Between last year and 2015, Asia was expected to account for half of the increase in global energy consumption. Christophe Barret, an energy economist at the firm, said regional comparisons were misleading. 'China has 30 provinces [and municipalities]; it has 30 economies. You can't compare it with other Asian countries. It's like comparing 30 countries with one.' DRI/McGraw-Hill concluded that Asia's energy consumption was likely to increase an average of 3.5 per cent per year between 1995 and 2015, compared with an average of 2.2 per cent per year for the world. Its share of the world energy market would rise from 27 per cent to 35 per cent by 2015 and its energy consumption would almost double to 4.89 billion tonnes oil equivalent. The growth would be uneven, with China's consumption rising the most and figures from mature economies such as Japan's rising the least. Japan would remain the region's major oil importer, but its share of Asia's energy demand would fall to 12 per cent, from 19 per cent, by 2015. The main source of growth regionally would be electricity consumption. China's electricity needs were forecast to more than treble by 2015 and coal would play an increasingly important role in generating power. Oil imports to Asia are expected to double by 2015 as the gap between regional production and consumption widens.