CHINA’S ENERGY CHALLENGES
China’s recent ventures into the new and renewable energy sectors are propelledby the need to achieve total ‘energy security’. Dependence on foreign oilcoupled with a heavy reliance on coal threatens China’s monumental growth andvacillating environment. Fearing an energy crisis, power shortages, and backlashfrom rural communities left without power, Beijing has began to embrace, amongnumerous other projects, renewable energy development.China’s energy demands are nothing new, but they are increasingly becomingmore urgent for Beijing. Chinese President Hu Jintao, at the APEC meeting lastSeptember in Australia, aired the CCP’s energy imperatives, “We should ensurethat both production and consumption are compatible with sustainabledevelopment. We should optimize the energy structure, promote industrialupgrading, develop low-carbon economy, build a resources-conserving andenvironment-friendly society and thus address the root cause of climate change.”President Hu’s statement not only respects the APEC agenda but clearlydemonstrates Beijing’s approval for alternative energy developments.Currently 70 percent of energy consumption in China derives from coal; by 2030optimists would belucky to see this leveldip to 60 percent.China’s recent StateCouncil InformationOffice,
White Paper onEnergy
(December 26, 2007), stated that they rank third in coal reserves with1,034.5 billion tons. Add this to the estimated 2.5 years it takes to build, fromconception to construction, a fully operating coal plant and you can see theimplications. However, China also knows that coal reliance adversely affects theenvironment—which in turn leads to social disharmonies.
China understands the energychallenges it faces and in turn haslooked towards renewable energyto alleviate oil dependence.
China’s goal, by 2020, is to have 15 percent of the countries primary energystem from renewable sources. Beijing, via recent law (Renewable Energy Law,enacted January 2006), deems hydroelectricity, wind power, solar energy,geothermal energy, and marine energy as verified renewable energy sources.