Looking into my green crystal ball, here’s my bold prediction about the US-China “wind energy race,” if there ever was such a thing.
Around this time last year, I blogged about some misconceptions on U.S. and China’s installed wind capacity and wind energy generation, highlighting that the U.S. was producing 64% more wind energy than China in 2011 with the same amount of turbines. I explained the reasons for this including China’s difficulties with their Renewable Energy Law, grid connection bottlenecks, and performance gaps due to technology and wind resource issues. In this blog, I’d like to provide a quick update on the U.S. and China wind energy development using newly released 2012 data, and then offer up a prediction for the rest of the decade.
“Green Hops,” our periodic newsy updates of energy and environmental developments concerning China resumes. Anora Wang and Jenny Tang contributed research and summaries to this edition.
This guest post is by Michael Davidson, a Masters Candidate and pre-doctoral student in the Technology and Policy Program of the Engineering Systems Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He blogs on energy and climate issues with a focus on Asia at East Winds.
While Washington debates about whether to get serious on our climate and energy policies, Beijing this week released China’s five-year energy development plan, laying out an ambitious “all of the above” strategy that where lacking in specifics more than makes up for in vision (the plan, in Chinese; and Google translated). The wide-ranging proposal builds on a number of previous plans and targets designed to ramp up renewable energy and transition fuels, aggressively consolidate the coal industry, scale up large hydropower, and build a coastal nuclear development zone. I was struck by this map of projected energy bases and import lines:
China comprehensive energy bases
Editors Note: We are pleased to announce that John Romankiewicz, aka Sustainable John, of Low-Carbon Style fame has joined the GLF team as a contributor! This is his maiden GLF post, a video interview / book review.
If Dr. Richard Muller, author of “Energy for Future Presidents” were President of China, he’d get the country to switch from coal to natural gas in a hurry.
I had the chance to catch up with Calvin Quek, Head of Sustainable Finance at Greenpeace East Asiabased in Beijing, and also the former executive director for the Beijing Energy Network, to discuss the recently announced 12th Five Year Energy Development Plan. See also previous post on this topic.
GLF: First of all congratulations, I saw that photo spread [link here] of you and your Greenpeace colleagues and, I must say, you are looking pretty hip and fashionable these days!
CQ: Thanks, thanks, what can I say, I’m just trying to keep up with you, and green is the new black.
New energy vehicles are one of China’sseven strategic emerging industries. Unlike its other “new energy” counterpart industries, NEVs, and electric vehicles in particular, are still waiting for commercial breakthrough.
China’s clean energy targets are usually just temporary placeholders. Targets for wind and solar power installed have been met, surpassed, and updated numerous times. New research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), however, suggests that China’s 2015 and 2020 targets for electric vehicle (EV) rollout will not be met due to “weak capability throughout the supply chain.” China has become a dominant force globally in wind and solar manufacturing and deployment; their supply chains are capable albeit recently consolidated with wavering demand in an oversupplied market. So why is that EV’s may not find similar success?
The recent run of air pollution in China, we now know, has been worse than the air quality in airport smoking lounges. At its worst, Beijing air quality has approached levels only seen in the US during wildfires.
All of the comparisons to London, Los Angeles, and New York in the last century are beside the point. Air pollution at these concentrations constitutes a public health emergency. Fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations of 250 µg/m3 are considered emergency levels. This past month, air pollution in Chinese cities has regularly been two, three, even four times this emergency threshold (and up to 40 times levels the WHO considers healthy). In the worst cases, people are literally dying from this pollution. And PM2.5 is only the tip of the iceberg. China’s air is brimming with a heady mix of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, lead, mercury, and other assorted pollutants.
The recent “airpocalypse” is just the latest in a long series of environmental disasters in China that have the world wondering whether a tipping point is imminent. Will it be China’s equivalent of Rachel Carson’sSilent Spring in the United States (or the Minamata mercury poisoning cases in Japan, or the Great Smog of 1952 in the United Kingdom)? That is, a catalyst for genuine environmental change?
Editors Note: We are pleased to announce that China water expert Christine Boyle has joined the GLF team as a contributor. Christine brings with her 15 years of environmental planning experience. She was previously a Fulbright Scholar in China and recently obtained her PhD from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She will be blogging on topics related to water and agriculture.
I am thrilled to be joining the GLF team. In my inaugural post, I’d like to draw an explicit connection between climate change and its impacts on water and food security.
The current trajectory for global greenhouse gas emissions is rising faster than the most pessimistic emission scenarios envisioned in the 4th Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Despite large uncertainties, a recent World Bank report warns that it increasingly plausible that this has put the world on a 4° C average warming path within the 21st century.
Such climate developments, their implications, and the resulting potential impacts – some very likely, others masked by great uncertainty – are, of course, relevant for the large populace of China.
News over the past five days in many parts of northern China have centered around the unprecedented air pollution shrouding several northern cities, including the capital. The “Airpocalypse,” so dubbed by micro-bloggers, has elicited a strong, unambiguous response frot the public and the media – causing many to call a spade a spade by casting away euphemisms like fog in favor of more candid descriptors like smog andpollution. It has also inspired this poignant music video lamenting the lost of Beijing to the evil forces of pollution:
In my attempts to catch up on lots of literature published over the past year that I missed, I finally read the 2012 paper China’s Long Road to a Low-Carbon Economy: An Institutional Analysis by Philip Andrews-Speed, one of the first and foremost international commentators on China’s energy economy. Naturally, its stuff worth reading (otherwise I wouldn’t be blogging about it) because it addresses the core factors of whether China will ever succeed in its quest for sustainability – its governance institutions, and more specifically, the tension between the tendency of such institutions to maintain the status quo and their capacity to adapt to change. Andrews-Speed is ultimately pessimistic, but more interesting, I think, is his thought processes in reaching such a conclusion.