Wednesday, June 10, 2009

China announces huge investment in wind and solar power

China today announced that it is planning a large increase in its use of wind and solar power over the next decade and believes it can match Europe by 2020, producing a fifth of its energy needs from renewable sources. Zhang Xiaoqiang, Vice-Chairman of China's National Development And Reform Commission, believes Beijing would easily surpass current 2020 targets for the use of wind and solar power and was now contemplating targets that were more than three times higher. In the current development plan, the goal for wind energy is 30 gigawatts. China's new goal could be 100GW by 2020.

China also believes that by 2020 the total installed capacity for solar power will be at least three times that of the original target (3GW). China generates only 120 megawatts of its electricity from solar power, so the goal represents a 75-fold expansion in over a decade. On another front, China has a plan of installing 100m energy-efficient lightbulbs this year alone.

Beijing seeks to achieve these goals by directing a significant share of China's $590bn economic stimulus package to low-carbon investment. Of that total, more than $30bn will be spent directly on environmental projects and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The indirect green share in the stimulus, in the form of investment in carbon-efficient transport and electricity transmission systems, would be far larger. China also believes the price reforms that will take place in its economic recovery programme will lead to more efficient use of resources and an increased demand for renewable energy.

He said the government would also plough money into the expansion of solar heating systems. He said the country was already a world leader, with 130m square metres of solar heating arrays already installed, and was planning to invest more. The US goal for solar heating by 2020 is 200m square metres.