Modu Magazine: A Tale of Urban China

Measures and projects for clean energy: supporting solar and hybrid energies

Concerned about the alarming environmental situation of the country, the Chinese government took several measures and policies during the Party’s meetings in March 2015, especially in clean, renewable and alternative energies.

In November 2014, China signed a climate agreement with the United States, the goal of which was to produce 1/5th of its energy by using renewable resources by 2030. Thus, in 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) decided to devote an important part of its budget to the development of clean and renewable energies. RMB1.5bn will be allocated to the region of Beijing, where the government plans to reduce its coal consumption by 13m tons by 2017.

Moreover, experts seem to be more interested in the concept of « green GDP» and « green loans », since preferential taxes have been set up in order to prompt companies to reduce their carbon footprint and to invest in clean energy (+32%in 2014). In late June of 2015, during a visit of Prime Minister Li Keqiang to France (host country of COP21) China also mentioned the idea of the decarbonization of its economy in order to lower the costs of new low-carbon technologies. Following this reduction of China’s carbon footprint, several polluting factories were forced to close. Yet, the renewable energies’ market could create 1.14m jobs jobs by 2020 and lend Chinese growth new vigour.

According to the new Minister of Environment Chen Jining, the State should rely more heavily on the private sector to finance all these environmental reforms. Hence, China opened its market to nuclear energy, an alternative yet controversial resource, and to wind energy (capacity of 200 GW by 2020). The Jiuquan wind farm in Gansu is a mega-project launched in 2008. Its main developers are the Chinese companies Huaneng Power International and Datang International Power, along with six other foreign companies. It should by then reach its maximum capacity (20 GW) and transmit energy to central Henan province.

Solar energy is also a priority, and its capacity is to be multiplied by three before 2020 (100GW). According to the National Energy Administration (NEA), the goal is not to develop large-scale solar projects in the West of the country anymore. Rather, it is the development of photovoltaic systems (more related to consumers) that should be highlighted and invested, by attracting companies such as Yingli, Canadian Solar and Trina Solar specialized in solar panels and grounds’ systems. Following this directive, Beijing put in place in 2014 a program called “Sunshine Schools” in association with the World Bank, aiming at installing solar panels of 800 primary and secondary schools’ rooftops and at raising awareness among the students about new, clean and sustainable energies.

In the cities, the top priority is to decrease individuals’ and public transports’ pollution. Thus, the government increasingly forbids polluting forms of transport on the roads, and plans on raising the number of private electric and hybrid forms of transport with lower purchase taxes. However, the electric car still has a long way to go before becoming mainstream because of its high cost and the lack of electric recharges in the cities. Progress is more significant with public transport. A pioneer hydrogen-power tram has become operational in Qingdao, and the Minister of Chinese Transportation announced that 200,000 buses and 100,000 taxis with alternate gas will circulate in the country by 2020. ZTE, a big telecommunication company, will soon launch a system of recharges for electric buses in several mainland cities such as Chengdu, Shenzhen and Kunming.

  • 2015/07/06

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  • Oriane Pillet

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