China’s Renewable Energy Potential

As the Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference (BIREC) kicks off this week, a new report released by the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) and sponsored by Greenpeace and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) shows that China could at least double its current wind energy target for 2020.

“The development of renewable energy plays a crucial strategic role in the power supply of China,” said Energy Bureau Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Xu Dingming. “Wind energy growth in China is now on a fast track and globally we believe that wind power will become the primary alternative energy in the future.” According to the CREIA report, Wind Force 12 in China, China’s current wind energy plan is to reach 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Germany, the world wind energy leader today, has just under 17 GW. However experts within the Chinese industry believe that 40 GW can be delivered within 15 years; rising to ten times this by 2050. This scale of wind power would need 20,000 typical modern wind turbines by 2020 and the investment generated could be worth USD $40 billion, putting China on track to become the world’s biggest wind energy market by 2020. “According to the China Meteorological Administration there is enough viable wind resource in China to power the whole country completely,” said Li Junfeng, Director of CREIA and the report’s lead author. “The capacity of wind potential in viable windy locations in China could match current total national capacity of all China’s existing power stations combined, four times over.” Greenpeace and the EWEA co-sponsored the report, which was produced by CREIA after they were inspired by the renewable energy vision laid out in European reports like the original Wind Force 12. Both Greenpeace and EWEA have been involved in consultations on China’s first Renewable Energy Law, which comes into force on January 1 and is widely expected to mark the takeoff of the Chinese wind industry. “Our collective future depends upon us helping China develop wind power and other clean energy technologies faster than ‘business as usual’,” said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace. “Climate change and energy security demand it. We will only avoid dangerous climate change if the rich countries get their own energy house in order and reduce emissions dramatically while at the same time assisting not only China, but the whole of the developing world to meet their energy needs sustainably. It’s time for the world to support China and put Chinese wind power on an even faster track.” To mark the launch of the report and celebrate the arrival of the international conference to Beijing, Chinese Greenpeace volunteers staged a welcoming event at Beijing’s Capital University of Economics and Business. One hundred volunteers lay on the ground to form the shape of a giant Chinese character ‘feng’ meaning ‘wind’. In front of the human wind symbol were banners in English and Chinese calling for ‘Clean Energy Now’. The event follows several weeks of campus advocacy calling young people in China to support renewable energy via the multilingual website www.surewind.org. “This first comprehensive Chinese industry report shows a better path is possible for China’s energy future,” said Prof. Arthouros Zervos, EWEA President. “Wind power is already delivering the goods for millions of people worldwide; China is rapidly becoming one the world’s most important wind energy market, there is major potential here for growth.”
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