Greenpeace presents a Masterplan for a climate-friendly energy future for China

Press release - 2007-04-25
China can achieve rapid economic growth without jeopardising the climate, through the use of renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, according to the ‘Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable China Energy Outlook’, launched today. The report is part of the global study ‘Energy [R]evolution’[1] , produced by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

The average Chinese person currently consumes one third of the energy that an average European consumes and one seventh of an American, but that number is set to increase.

"The average Chinese person currently consumes one third of the energy that an average European consumes and one seventh of an American, but that number is set to increase. Our energy [R]evolution report shows that China can maintain economic growth and - at the same time - stabilize its CO2 emissions at current level by 2050," said Sven Teske energy expert of Greenpeace International, "However this is only possible if industrialized countries and developing countries work together to shift new investments away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and renewable energy."

The report takes into account the development needs of China and highlights a practical plan for a Chinese energy revolution, as part of the world's efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. The good news is that the current Chinese governmental targets are almost in line with the revolution scenario. The Chinese government has a target of decreasing its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% by 2010, while the Masterplan asks for 23.7%.

On renewable energy, the report shows that China can afford to have much bigger ambitions for the development of wind energy and solar PV. The Chinese government has set the target that by 2020, the country will supply 16% of its primary energy from renewable energy sources. To reach the target, together with other measures, China plans to develop 300GW of hydro power, 30GW of wind power, and 1.8GW of solar photovoltaic. According to the energy revolution scenario, China has the potential as well as the capacity to develop 118GW of wind power and 25GW of solar PV power by 2020.

"Greenpeace calls for the Government to implement its target to limit the growth of energy consumption as China continues to develop, and also to introduce strong policies such as feed-in-tariffs to support the development of wind and solar PV industries in China," said Yang Ailun, Greenpeace China Climate and Energy Campaign Manager.

However, the report also highlights the short time window for making the key decisions of reforming the Chinese energy structure, which still depends 70% on coal. Just in the past two years, the installed capacity of coal-fired power grew by 160GW[2], all of which will continue to pollute for decades to come. "China has to get rid of its dependency on coal. Fortunately, there is no reason to believe that such a trend will continue from next year onwards," Yang continued, "With the enforcement of energy efficiency targets and also the decision to close down 50GW of its least efficient coal-fired plants, the trend of massive coal-fired plants instalment will be slowed down from 2008."

Other contacts:

Sven Teske, Greenpeace International Renewable Energy Campaigner, +31 6212 96894
Ailun Yang, Greenpeace China Climate and Energy Campaign Manager, +86 139 105 14449
Sarah LIANG, Greenpeace China media officer, +86 139 111 52514


1.The Energy [R]evolution scenario sets a target for the reduction of worldwide emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, in order for the increase in global mean temperature to remain under +2ºC. The report was developed in conjunction with specialists from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and more than 30 scientists and engineers from universities, institutes and the renewable energy industry around the world. From China, Professor Zhang Xiliang, specialist in energy economics at the Tsinghua Univeristy, assisted on the development of the report.

2.China’s electricity sector experienced a serious oversupply in late 1990s, due to the restructure of the state-owned economy. Construction of new power plants was almost completely stopped for several years. From 2003, with the surge in economic growth came a serious energy shortage. However, the Chinese renewable energy industries were not ready to expand at that time, while coal-fired plants became the primary solution to the shortage problem because of its short construction circle. The newly installed capacity for 2005 and 2006 was 60GW and 100GW respectively (which equals 213 power plants, if the average size is assumed to be 750 MW). It is predicted that 2007 will witness the peak where another 100GW of coal-fired plants will be installed (approximately 130 power plants). The electricity shortage problem has been relieved since 2005, and 2008 will see the slow-down of new coal instalment.