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China and low carbon economy

By Lau Nai-keung | China Daily | Updated: 2009-08-20 07:50

Recently on my way to Dunhuang, the Gansu city of caved Buddha fame, I was fascinated by what must be the largest wind farm on earth. These magnificent modern windmill arrays gently churned along both sides of the highway for miles forging a beautiful and highly unforgettable sight. Local officials later confirmed that this is the largest wind farm on earth, and it is situated in the city of Yumen, the first oil field in modern China. Its current capacity is 420,000 kilowatts, to be expanded by the year-end to 1 million kilowatts and ultimately to 10 million.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Projects of similar size are now being commissioned in six clusters all over North China, and one along the coast of Zhejiang, with a total planned capacity approaching 120 million kilowatts. These wind farms have to be huge to meet the economic and stability requirements to join the national power grid. Wind energy is now part and parcel of the Chinese national power supply system.

Wind energy is only part of the story. China is now leading the world in clean coal power plants, nuclear plant technology and is also the largest manufacturer of solar voltaic cells. The government has already earmarked 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion) until 2020 for the development of new energy. Compare this figure with the Obama-Biden platform pledge (that is, still words) of $150 billion in the coming decade to make new energy the next growth engine for the US economy, and one can appreciate the determination of the Chinese government in this direction.

China and low carbon economy

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