Friday, May 11, 2007

Ryan Pyle Blog: China: Renewable Energy - Wind Power

China is sending a mixed message to the world, and the world is becoming increasingly impatient. While investing and promoting renewable energy within its borders, China has continually failed to make any progress in curbing its carbon emissions, which are set to move past the United States this year; making China the worlds number one polluter.

China's increasing energy needs are not slowing down, in fact they are increasing and in doing so they are beginning to catch headlines around the world as investment in oil rich Sudan, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iran are causing western countries to loath China's deep pockets, and their seemingly lack of investment conscience. But that is abroad, at home China is actually pursuing renewable energy, the problem is they haven't done anything to cut back on coal power or heavy industry. And therein lies the heart of the problem; China can develop as much renewable energy as it likes, but without serious policy on stopping the polluting that existing, nothing will really change.

While change is stagnant on the ground, China continues to grasp headlines stating that by 2020 China expects to supply about 10 percent of its energy needs from various forms of renewable energy, meaning: wind, solar, hydro electric and biomass. That is a significant increase given China's miniscule starting point. But more important than statistics and headlines is that Chinese law makers, while avoiding making missed pollution targets a serious offense, have passed a law in February 2006 that formalizes many incentives and clear targets for increased power generation from renewable sources. The most significant section of this new law may indeed be that China's provincial governments will be required by law to purchase a certain percentage of their required electricity from alternative providers, even when the cost is greater.

This law has essentially guaranteed the existence of the renewable energy industry in China, wind and solar power have been the biggest beneficiaries. Wind power farms are being erected throughout China at a dizzying pace and domestic suppliers are rushing in to the industry to supply this need but beware, there is a bottle neck looming. Currently China's antique power grid is incapable of handling this increase in energy production, its grid is incapable of automatically re-routing electricity from one region to another as supply and demand fluctuate. This makes taking full advantage of a large investment in renewable energy almost impossible in the short term.

Although there are barriers China, the country is still home to 16 of the worlds 20 most polluted cities and things must begin to change. Even with all the problems that exist, it's held that China has the most wind power potential of any country in the world, taking into account its inland and offshore sites; and that is enough to get the ball rolling. With that in mind I have begun a long term project on China's push to integrate renewable energy. With this report I will try to show that China is suffering from a multiple personality disorder, by promoting and offering subsides for re-newable energy on the one hand, and on the other missing pollution reduction targets and generally being unable to control general pollution and carbon emissions.

More on this to come. Watch this space.
In completing the start of the project I have visited the provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia with more work scheduled in summer 2007.


Ryan Pyle
Skype: ryanpyle

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