China’s energy administration is drawing up plans to increase power generation from renewable sources to 15 percent of the nation’s total by 2020. To do so, the country will rely more on solar, wind and biomass energy with the goal of deriving more than 200 million emissions-free kilowatts.
While 15 percent might not seem like a lot in California where the mandate is 33 percent of the state’s total by 2020, the figure is pretty ambitious for a country with such a massive population and higher technological hurdles. In fact, 15 percent would be 13 times China’s current amount of energy generated by renewables (about 15 million kilowatts, according to VentureWire). The proposal would significantly revise a current target of 60 million kilowatts by 2020.
Achieving the raised bar would require substantial financial investment by the Chinese government and private backers. Rough estimates put the amount at $658.8 billion dollars (or as high as $1.3 trillion including investments from component makers and others) — a staggering number that is closer to the U.S.’s full $787 billion stimulus package than the $60 billion going to cleantech industries.
Already, there are plans for 20 large solar power plants in Jiangsu Province, and proposals for wind power facilities to be located off the coast of Shanghai. Meeting these renewable sources halfway, the country already has a nuclear strategy in the works that could boost that brand of energy production to 86 million kilowatts (5 percent of energy production) by 2020. Today, nuclear accounts for little more than 9 million kilowatts in China.
China surpassed the United States as the largest producer of greenhouse gases several years ago. Together the countries account for 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world, according to the New York Times.
China’s goal — similar to many countries, including the U.S. — is to come up with a comprehensive and ambitious plan to present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cophenhagen in December, where the global community will attempt to reach a consensus similar to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Heavily criticized for its pollution problems and unsustainable development policies, China is hoping to improve its profile at the meeting, where it says it will pitch a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the whole world by 2020.