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China's Hebei Province Aims To Boost Renewable Energy Development

Hebei province proposed in its Twelfth Five-Year Plan, which spans 2011-2015, increasing the portion that renewable energy contributes to final energy consumption -- including electricity, heat and fuel -- from 2.6 percent to more than 5 percent, in a move to boost the development of the new energy sector.

The province has abundant renewable energy resources. Technically exploitable onshore wind resources surpass 17 GW, according to experts, while offshore resources exceed 4 GW. Biomass has huge development potential as Hebei produces more than 12 million tons of straw annually that would simply go to waste if not converted. Water resources total 20.5 billion cubic meters, laying a solid foundation for the development and building of pumped storage power stations. In addition, the province's exploitable geothermal resources amount to 9.4 billion tons of coal equivalent.

However, the renewable energy sector in the province still has a long way to go. In 2010, fossil energy sources – essentially coal and petroleum – still accounted for 97.4 percent of the province's energy consumption, highlighting the increasing conflict between economic development and energy sustainability, energy conservation and emission reductions.

While onshore wind power and solar hot water utilization have made significant progress, electricity generation by means of PV is still in its early stages; development of offshore wind power has not yet started; and the utilization rate of biomass energy is less than 20 percent. Additionally, as construction of the grid lags behind that of wind farms, obstacles remain in terms of getting the available wind resources connected to the grid.

Director general of the Hebei Provincial Energy Bureau Dong Shidang recently said, "Given the growing energy consumption and huge challenges facing the traditional energy industry, accelerating the development of new energy resources has become a strategic priority to support economic and social sustainability."

Chinese industry analysts have indicated that renewable energy development is likely to become the most important economic growth engine as well as a powerful driver of job and wealth creation in future, as evidenced by dramatically increased capital flows into renewable energy resources like wind, solar and biomass.

According to the provincial five-year plan, Hebei province will increase the share of renewable energy in total installed power capacity to 15 percent by 2015, representing an increase of 7.5 percentage points compared to 2010, with installed wind, solar and biomass capacity reaching 9 GW, 0.3 GW and 0.7 GW respectively. Meanwhile, solar hot water collector area in operation is expected to double to 10 million square meters (approx. 100 million square feet) by 2015.

[Editor’s Note: The province is looking to increase the electrical installed capacity of renewables to 15% by 2015 and hopes that in doing that, the percentage of final energy used by consumers will be 5% when coupled with the use of renewable heat and fuel.]

To develop a competitive edge in its renewable energy sector, Hebei province plans to strengthen its strategic cooperation with well-known industry players both within and outside of China with an aim to developing a number of major projects in renewable energy utilization, equipment manufacturing and technology innovation. The Xingtai Economic Development Zone, for example, recently entered into a preliminary agreement with US-based solar panel maker SunPower to build China's largest solar power station.

 

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