China, also known as the coal country for its energy resource, where the legions of workers toiled in the coal mines and often died in the mining activities after exposed for a long time to the soot of the fossil mining. Very often, due to the exploitation of the coal that leads to the collapse of the mining shafts cause the mining accidents. The abandoned coal mines often would collapse due to the hollowed ground and lakes are created.
Lately, in Liulong in Nanjing (六家莊), a lake was created and China has begun to build the world’s largest floating solar project to provide electricity to the nearby city. By expanding this to a dozen sites can collectively produce the same kWh of electric power equivalent to a full-size nuclear reactor.
Already countries like Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan, have sent delegates to visit the site to learn more about this. China is also getting ready to offer this technology to help these countries to tap into the renewable energy.
Recently Beijing hosted the Clean Energy Ministerial and a gathering of two-dozen countries for the meeting. These countries also created the three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The US was there and showed the deep split of the nation as Governor Jerry Brown from California was there acting as the supporter of renewable energy.
China is already dominating in the low-carbon energy technologies, for instance, it is producing two-thirds of the world’s solar panels and nearly half of the wind turbines. It is also known for its hydroelectric power and the nuclear reactors.
The US and the EU have been accusing Beijing of the unfair practice in subsidizing its green industries and have applied punitive tariffs on the solar panels for instance.
At the same time, China is angry with EU because of the refusal to recognize China as the “market economy”. China is still insisting the market economy status should be given automatically after being granted in the WTO for 15 years. Obviously, China has not lived up to its promises in the first place upon the joining. The western countries were expecting that the 15 years would have been adequate for China to have completely complied with the requirements. Taking the opportunity in the joint statement on the climate change, China has shown the unwillingness to cooperate and applied pressure to Germany and other EU countries to bid for the market economy status at the WTO.
For the renewable energy, Chinese local governments continue to provide free land, state-owned banks grant enormous loans at low interest, to encourage clean energy industry.
Currently, solar energy only accounts for 2% of the electricity need. It employs one million workers and by contrast, the coal is generating 70% of the country’s electricity and it is still employing four million coal miners. We can see that China has a long way to go.
US and Japan started the technology for the solar panels in the past half century but were careful not to build large factories fearing that they might have to undercut the price to sell the excessive production.
But China has been going the opposite, Jinko Solar and Trina Solar, the world’s largest solar panel producers are going ahead with automated factories in churning out solar panels with consistent quality and at reducing cost. With engaging the robots, quantity has doubled and cost of labor has halved.
This enables China to sell to new markets like India and Saudi Arabia which were unexpected before. All this is making it possible with the Paris Climate Accord.
The technology as developed can now deal with the extreme heat and extreme humidity because of the different conditions. And for instance, the panels made for the lake of Liulong are said to be waterproof.
This brings to the conclusion where the US retreats and China advances and this is a typical example.
The New York Times Thursday 8, June 2017
FT Tuesday 13, June 2017