China’s renewable part

Alternative Energy and China

“Look, it’s a big ship …”

-John Matthews

Big China. Huge population, huge industries, huge invasive government. It will take a lot of effort and moxie and unfortunately, time, to turn the country’s energy consumption around toward renewables.

But they are apparently doing that. They are converting the bulk of their energy to solar energy. This interestingly huge project has grown their solar market exponentially. China is the largest manufacturers of solar panels in the world. Their solar panels are cheap and I hope they last longer than Harbor Freight products.

It’s a great caper led by a bunch of commie capitalists. Solar energy costs are now on par with costs of other energy sources in China. Solar energy costs are on par with costs of coal energy.

Great achievement. Big ship.

This is hard to get my head around since I live in a country where the government doesn’t do anything kind of big domestically, thanks to domestic numbnuts.

John Matthews and Tan Hao are co-authors of  ‘Manufacture Renewables to Build Energy Security’ which is in the September 10 issue of nature.com. They write that some experts believe China’s greenhouse gas emissions could peak years earlier than the government had pledged (2030). This could make a critical difference planetwide in limiting rising temperatures and sea levels.

“… industrialization can go hand in hand with decarbonization.” Well, I hope so.

“The United States and European Union are pursuing counterproductive policies,” write Matthews and Tan, “such as increasing trade tariffs on imported Chinese photovoltaic panels. Restricting global trade in renewable devices will only slow the rate at which costs decrease and will decelerate the world’s retreat from fossil fuels.

As a result, uptake of renewable energies globally has been too sluggish to seriously reduce greenhouse gases and tackle climate change. For 15 years, countries have failed to deliver their carbon-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, hindered by the vested interests of the fossil-fuel industry and fears that the alternatives are costly.”

Chinese vested fossil-fuel interests don’t have a lot of power these days. Coal mines are shutting down everywhere in the coal producing regions, although part of the reason is the slowing economy.

The eerie thing is that the power they’ve enjoyed for the past twenty years has been state-sanctioned. State-sanctioned coal industry and state-sanctioned renewables industry. Both of them are vast. Looks like one of them is getting the can.

“I think it’s finished,” said Wang Jinwang, a longtime miner whose salary has been cut by one-fifth.

The idea is that if China’s coal use continues to slow as it has been, their greenhouse gas emissions could peak years earlier than the government had promised (by 2030). This could make a palpable difference planetwide in limiting rising temperatures and sea levels.

How will the mother ship respond?