Background: The diversification of product production and consumption generates closer links between industrial sectors and increases the complexity of indirect energy flows between industrial sectors and interdepartmental interdependence.
Methods: We calculated the indirect energy flows between various industrial sectors in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017. Then, we have built four indirect energy flow networks and explored the characteristics and the interdependence of indirect energy consumption between sectors. Finally, a quadratic assignment procedure correlation analysis was performed to clarify the relationship between the indirect energy flow relationship and the dependence relationship between industrial sectors.
Results: Different industrial sectors play different roles in the process of indirect energy consumption, with a more concentrated indirect energy supply among industrial sectors compared with consumption and a gradual shift in the indirect energy supply from the chemical industry to the service industry. Higher and more stable flow paths that carry indirect energy flows and clearer interdepartmental dependencies are reflected in the upstream and downstream links of the industrial chain. The correlation between indirect energy flows and interdepartmental dependencies is gradually increasing but requires improvements to further optimize China’s industrial structure and reduce energy consumption.
Conclusions: Efforts should be made to reduce the energy supply in the chemical sector, optimize the quality of the energy supply in the service sector, and reduce energy consumption. Appropriate attention should be focused on the indirect energy flow relationship between the upstream and downstream industries of the industrial chain, and the integrity of the domestic industrial chain can be improved to reduce the total energy consumption.