China’s electricity will be 35% clean by 2020 6


ChinaIt seems the arms race is continuing as the People’s Republic of China is willing to get 35 percent of its electricity by renewable energy sources by 2020. This will represent 570 gigawatts of capacity.

It is worth noting that the country’s electricity demand is due to double by then and will reach 1,600 GW of capacity. This means that the country will still have to rely more on coal. Perhaps efficiency could solve the problem.

China also called developed countries to cut their greenhouse gases emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. I hope their call will be heard.


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6 thoughts on “China’s electricity will be 35% clean by 2020

  • Kiashu

    Such-and-such percent renewable doesn’t impress me much. As you noted, they’ll still have more emissions than they do today, because they’ll have more coal.

    In Sweden in the 1980s they voted to get rid of their nuclear, so they built other stuff to replace it. But… they found they liked having all that extra power, and it was never quite the right time to switch off their nukes. The new power generation added to rather than replaced the old.

    I can see renewables doing the same across the world. If we begin with 1,000MW of coal, we could,
    – build 200MW of wind, and close down 200MW of coal – emissions down
    – build 250MW of wind, and leave the coal alone – emissions same
    – build 400MW of wind, and build 600MW of coal – emissions up
    and in each case we could honestly say, “we’re 20% renewable!” But when people hear we’re 20% renewable, they imagine the first scenario, that emissions have dropped. But the second and third scenarios are more likely, unfortunately.

    So I don’t want to hear about how many windmills the Chinese build, or solar panels the Australians put up. I want to hear what our fossil fuel consumption will be, where we’ll get our timber and food from, what our emissions will be.

  • Edouard Post author

    Agreed Kiashu, agreed a thousand times.

    As you read in my note, I clearly stated that meant they would burn more coal, and since it ain’t exactly my favorite energy source I mentioned efficiency to solve the problem.

    It’s high time our representatives – and not leaders – get that: we need to close coal fired plants ASAP. replacing them by renewables as they come would to the climate change mitigation trick.

    Enjoy your weekend and as always, thanks for your comment ! 😉

  • Kiashu

    Man, if only we’d close some down. Here in Victoria we’ve got the most polluting power station in the industrialised world – Hazelwood, 1.58kg CO2e/kWh.

  • Edouard Post author

    Holly smoke ! 1580 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt per hour ?

    That’s nearly 80 times more than a nuclear power plant ! Off course no energy solution is perfect – we both agree on that – but nuclear is at least less polluting emissions wise…

  • Kiashu

    Now now Edouard, you know that the nuclear figure is debatable and very changeable, simply because of the energy required to mine, refine, process and enrich the uranium, and the energy required to build and later decomission the reactor, as well as processing the waste (whether reprocessing for fuel or processing to make it safe for storage).

    The Hazelwood figures are only for the brown coal burning, and don’t include any life cycle analysis, ie they exclude the generator’s construction, the emissions due to the mining of the coal, etc.

    Whatever the uncertainties with nuclear, it’s pretty clear it can’t be worse in carbon emissions than Hazelwood power station 🙂

    Even with wind turbines, where the inputs are less argued about, we get greatly varying figures, from 8-200g CO2e/kWh; likewise, they vary in dollars cost. These things vary a lot. One thing to remember is that in the early years of renewable energy (the 1980s), the emphasis was simply on not using fossil fuels, rather than on reducing emissions. There are some building methods developed recently which use less cement, for example.

    Reducing carbon emissions while building or using something turns out to be like reducing the money spent on it – to make really big reductions, you have to pay attention to every part and every stage of it.