Great leap forward in Bonn as global energy revolution gets Chinese boost

Feature Story - 2004-06-03
The global energy revolution received a huge boost today as the Chinese government unveiled its ambition to become a global wind power within the next decade. Greenpeace was quick to laud the Chinese government's announcement and called on northern governments and financing institutions to support China's renewable energy ambition.

Wind farm in Nan'ao Guangdong, China

"This is a golden opportunity - if China is able to fully utilize its immense renewable energy resources, it can leapfrog over the polluting fossil fuel age straight into a clean renewable energy future. China's current dependency on coal is contributing to climate change. But as part of the global problem, China can also form part of the global solution." said Lo Sze Ping, campaign director of Greenpeace in China. Lo continued, "It's time for governments in the EU and institutions such as the World Bank to put their money where their mouths are. Supporting China's bid to be a global wind power can only be good for the climate and at the same time address poverty alleviation."

This view was shared by the renewable energy industry, as Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) said, "For 100 years since the industrial revolution, China has always looked down for our energy resources, which has made our environment sick. Now is the time to look upwards to the sun and the wind. China is taking its sustainable development goals very seriously but it needs international support."

The announcement of an ambitious renewable energy plan was made today by the Chinese government in an event called "China Day," a seminar attended by various representatives from industry, government and financial institutions attending the renewable energy conference being held in Bonn, Germany from June 1 to 4. More than two thousand delegates representing 154 countries are attending the first ever- global meet on renewable energy called Renewables 2004. Germany's Minister of Environment Jurgen Trittin and the UK's Minister of State for Energy Stephen Timms addressed the large gathering and welcomed the commitments made by the Chinese government.

China published an action plan within the Conference saying that by 2010, the installed capacity of renewable energy in China will grow to 60 GW, accounting for 10% of the nation's total installed capacity. Among others, this will include wind power (4GW), biomass (6GW) and solar PV (450 MW). Furthermore, by 2020, the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix will accumulate to 12% (121GW). Meanwhile, the Chinese government is presently drafting a landmark Renewable Energy Promotion Law the passage of which it hopes will pull in the massive financial resources that will allow China to give renewable energy a massive share in its energy mix.

In his presentation of the China action plan and the landmark RE law, Zhang Guobao, Deputy Minister of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said, "We would like to cooperate with all countries to promote the large-scale exploitation and utilization of renewable energy and to achieve the real sustainable development that humankind expects and needs at this critical time in our history."

A report called Wind Force 12 launched in May by Greenpeace and CREIA showed that China could provide 170GW from wind power alone, producing the equivalent of 417 TWH and an annual reduction of 325 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. (1)

Guangdong Province, one of the main economic engines of China today, also has one of the highest wind energy potentials in China. Recent research commissioned by Greenpeace shows that, just in Guangdong, wind power can provide 20GW of capacity to meet the province's growing energy needs by 2015 - as much as 14% of its projected 2015 demand. (2)

Greenpeace's Mr. Lo said, "China has admirable ambitions for renewable energy, but Greenpeace believes that the wind energy opportunity to be seized is much greater than China's current projects. China can reap enormous benefits - for the people and environment - by being far more aggressive with its wind energy plans".

Notes to editors:

(1) The report, Wind Force 12 (WF12), also shows at least 440,000 jobs being generated in China by wind power and a cumulative investment of EURO105 billion. The report, originally authored by Greenpeace and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), shows that by 2020, wind power can deliver 12% of the world's electricity. The Chinese version of WF12 was launched in Beijing last May 15, 2004 in a joint Greenpeace/CREIA/EWEA press conference attended by ranking officials of the influential National Development and Reform Commission of China.

(2) The Wind Guangdong Strategy, Greenpeace-WindFutures, 2004. Guangdong province contributes 25% of China's GDP, and produces 10% of the world's consumer goods.

(3) China's growing pains call for birth of green revolution," James Kynge, New York Times, May 25, 2004.

(4) "A quarter of China's population at risk as glaciers start melting," Agence France Presse, May 12, 2004.