In the past two decades, research and development in the green energy sector has technologically advanced to a great extent, yielding hundreds of promising new technologies that can lessen our reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas. The term green energy is often confused with fossil fuel. Green energy is obtained from natural sources such as wind, rain, sunlight, tides, plants, algae and geothermal heat. These energy resources are renewable; they are naturally replenished. In comparison, fossil fuels are limited; they take millions of years to develop and eventually continue to reduce with use. Renewable resources are environment friendly and easily available anywhere as compared to fossil fuels which require drilling and mining of Earth for extraction along with production of pollutants such as greenhouse gases as a by-product, contributing to climate change.
China has remained and continues to remain on top of the list of countries producing and using Green Energy. According to a report by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), China dominated the world in the building and financing of clean energy technology globally in 2017. It was also highlighted that China led the Global Trends in Energy Investment of 2017. China considers Green Energy dominating global power capacity additions for at least the next two decades and is preparing to lead the new energy world. The major boom in development and expansion of China’s Renewable Energy Sector came after Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement; a move that led to China’s swift reassertion of its emissions-reduction pledge that allowed it to further project itself globally as a responsible major power while solving not only its domestic air pollution concerns but also establishing world-leading capacity in new energy markets.On the national level, in 2017, China re-structured its huge state-owned power generators in an attempt to move Chinese power companies away from traditional reliance on coal and to re-organize incentives for the largest coal and power companies. China Energy Investment Corp., emerged after merger of China Guodian Corp. and Shenhua Group Corp., produced world’s largest power generator with an installed capacity of about 225 gigawatts (GW). The company largely shifted to Green Energy instead of using coal for the production. By the end of 2016, China had improved its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 GW presently installed. China also installed approximately 50 GW of solar-energy power-plant in 2017. International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that China will continue to lead the world in renewable energy development. In longing for maturing the culture of Green Energy, China shut down 40 percent of its factories for not abiding by emissions regulations; considered as one of the boldest step in international arena.
China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has driven its energy investments internationally with the revival of ancient trading routes. The initiative has driven US$8 billion of solar equipment exports from China and abetted China to become the number one exporter of environmental goods and services, surpassing the US and Germany. Chinese overseas energy investments are following the global Green Energy trends; building capacity for manufacturing and using renewable energy. The figures estimated by IEA show a 165 GW growth of renewable energy capacity far greater than coal-fired capacity that grew by 55 GW in 2016. Chinese total investment in clean-energy (aka Green Energy) projects represented more than $44 billion as of 2017.
Given that the IEA sees renewables contributing 60 percent of global add-ons to electricity generation capacity over the next five years, China’s progress will enable it to continue to build on its stature as the global leader in renewable energy by looking for opportunities to improve international standard EPC and functioning credentials. The most modest projections show that by 2030, only 20% of the country’s primary energy consumptions will arise from non-carbon sources. With such fast pace it is predicted, by IEA, that China will install the equivalent of the total history of solar development in Germany by the end of 2018.
India, being a competitor of China in almost all fields, is also gaining momentum in renewable energy sector to capture major international markets and also sustain its rapidly increasing economy. India has made viable progress, like Europe, by building its interstate and international grid connectivity. China and India have remained competitive markets in diversified fields and are expected to compete in this sector as well.
It is important for China to pursue emergent & renewable markets owing to its huge size and ever-increasing energy demands. President Xi has also remained verbal on the Green Energy issue, calling for an “ecological civilization”. This claim is propped up by Chinese development in ‘green shift’ i.e. transition to alternative energies; becoming more energy efficient & self-sufficient. Heavy industrialization has deteriorated China’s environment harshly resulting in only 02 percent availability of air, to be breathed by people, that meets the World Health Organization’s air-quality standard on particulates, according to the International Energy Agency. Policy change in China has driven a surge in renewable generation, an obliteration of carbon dioxide discharges and a nose-diving trend in coal permitting and construction.
The foremost motivating factor for China to significantly pursue research and development in renewable energy sector is the desire to ease the appalling air pollution that kills a projected 1.1 million of its people per annum. Every hour, China sets up one more wind turbine and installs ample solar panels to cover a soccer field, Greenpeace estimates show. If we analyze this strategy reformation, it can be clearly seen that China is striving for becoming a renewable energy manufacturing giant to not only increase its economic development’s pace but deliver clean environment to its citizen as well.
Today’s neoliberal world order calls for sustainability that is not possible with meager resources and energy; China futuristic plans will espouse its economic manifestations in the long-run, especially the Belt & Road Initiative will astoundingly benefit from it. China also desires to become an energy exporter worldwide; to lead the energy sector, increase its revenue and meddle with the international economic order. Chinese strength’s lies in its visionary economic policies and swift progress in the commerce industry. China is determined to lead the multi-polar world in all formats; be it social, military, economic or political.
Milestones covered by China in Green Energy:
- Chinese solar manufacturers account for about 60% of global solar cell production with the fact that China’s solar manufacturing headship was cemented in 2017.
- Renowned Chinese wind energy companies, including China-owned world’s largest wind power developer, continued to expand globally.
- Large Chinese hydro power firms continued to either procure or to win contracts to construct major hydro projects. Latin America, Africa and Asia continue to be zones of emphasis for Chinese hydro companies.
- State Grid Corporation, the world’s largest power utility, leads tenacious Chinese international investment in power grids.
Sarmad Ali Khan
The writer is Staff Reporter & Content Writer in Melange Magazine & The Asian Telegraph (COPAIR)