GENI just returned from participating in the 2006 Great Wall Renewable
Energy Forum, hosted by the Chinese Renewable Energy Society. This was
my third trip to Beijing in a dozen years, and the Chinese energy story
is many challenging facets.
First, GDP growth is averaging 8%, which means the economy doubles in
9 years. The demand for energy is voracious as they expect to build 80,000
MW of new capacity this year! Shockingly, China is building a 1,000
MW coal-fired plant every week. Traffic jams now grip Beijing streets
and air pollution hangs heavy over the capital.
Renewable energies, beyond large hydropower, have now become a priority
for China's energy planners.
From less than 1% renewable energy penetration, China is now targeting
10% from renewables by 2010, and 16% by 2020. The renewable resource potential
is huge: 3 million MW of wind; 400,000 MW of hydro, and for solar, over
1 trillion tons of coal equivalent a year.
The lines of electricity are now reaching nearly every rural village,
and over 99% of China now has electric lights and other basic energy
services. Providing electricity to everyone is considered the "social
responsibility" of the State Grid Corporation. And in the spirit
of GENI, China has interconnected their high-voltage grid with Vietnam
for the economic exchange of electrical energy. Other Southeast Asian
nations will follow suit the ASEAN grid.
The choices that China makes will affect us all. If the U.S., China and
India compete for depleting fossil fuels in the future, we will all suffer
the political and environmental repercussions. If these same nations compete
in the race for renewable energies, we can expect a cleaner and more peaceful
planet for us and our grandchildren.
In partnership for the planet,