China - Alternative Energy SourcesChina's voracious appetite for energy due to its rapid industrialization and population certainly is a major factor in global warming. In 2004, greenhouse gas emissions from China constituted more than 1/2 of the U.S. emissions. Since then, China has been constructing an average of one coal-fired power plant every week and plans to continue doing so for several years. Several experts have predicted that China will overtake the U.S. in greenhouse emissions between 2007 and 2010. Other experts suggest that China has already surpassed the U.S. in greenhouse emissions in 2006.
The Chinese government has stated that the gas emissions level should be measured by the country's per capita emission. China has established population control regulations and maintained low emissions per capita so that its government asserts that it should receive accolades in terms of its impact on the global environment. Moreover, China's energy intensity measured by energy consumption per unit of GDP has decreased by 47 per cent between 1991 and 2005.
Between 1950 and 2002, the carbon dioxide emissions from China's fossil fuel usage accounted for over 9% of the global total. In 2004, its per capita CO2 emissions from fossil fuels was 3.65 tons which is 87% of the world average and one third that of western countries. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, China ranks 121st in per capita emissions. This compares with the U.S. which ranked as the 14th largest in terms of per capita CO2 emissions at 22.9 tonnes of CO2.
In the summer of 2007, China developed a climate change plan and stated that it would focus upon climate change as a core element of its energy policies. However, China stated that developed countries had to share the primary responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and that the common but differentiated responsibility principle agreed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change should apply.
China's response to criticisms of its energy policies have been that criticisms are unfair and that carbon studies reveal that one quarter of its emissions are due to products exported for consumption in developed nations.
During the recent global energy crisis, PetroChina indicated a 6 percent increase in oil production, and at the same time, China announced that it would spend US $175 billion for clean energy, including its plan to construct its largest wind power project with a projected output of 200 megawatts, thereby making it one of the world's largest.
China has referred to itself as the world's largest investor in renewable energy. One of its objectives is to develop its substantial wind energy potential which is estimated at 632 gigawatts onshore and 750 gigawatts offshore. It has a stated goal of using renewable sources to meet 10 percent of its energy needs by 2010. China has an objective of generating 30 gigawatts of wind power by 2020. In 2004, it generated only 1 GW which provided electrical power to 13 to 30 million households. The projected cost of achieving its wind energy goal is US $188 billion.
China's renewable energy law was passed in 2005. It guaranteed a fixed grid price for renewables and offered incentives to developers. The National People's Congress (NPC) approved the Law on Renewable Sources which states that renewable energy is a priority in China's energy strategy. The law became effective in 2006 and provides a number of practices to ensure that renewable energy will be produced, marketed and used. Power grid operators are obligated to purchase resources from registered renewable energy producers within their regions. It also encourages companies to sell bio fuels.
Power grid operators are required to purchase renewable-source-generated power at directed prices established by the government. The entire power network shares the costs of any subsidies for the renewable energy sources. The legislation provides financial incentives, including a federal grant to encourage renewable energy development and discounted lending and tax preferences for renewable energy projects.
Since 2006, the market for wind and solar energy technology has exploded. Foreign firms have been developing wind projects for the Chinese and export markets. Chinese companies have invested well over US $1 billion in wind energy technology. Yingli Solar completed its large Nasdaq IPO. Several other wind power manufacturers have received substantial financial resources.
Several factors are driving China's wind power industry, including China has a substantial underdeveloped market, China's renewable energy expansion policies and its low production costs for exports to growth markets in the U.S. and Europe. A number of foreign and domestic firms have established wind farms and built production plants across China. There have been estimates that the compound annual growth rate of China's wind power capacity, particularly wind turbines, is 20-30 % in 2010-20.
Chinese officials have stated that in order to sustain China's rapid economic growth, China needs to optimize its energy structure by rapidly developing natural gas, hydropower and nuclear power and using more renewable energy. The optimized structure would allow improved energy use efficiency and, ultimately. reduced total energy demands.
China outstrips the U.S. in coal burning. Certainly, its massive energy consumption in large measure benefits western countries through the production and export of goods from China's factories with inexpensive labor and production costs.