China still primarily depends on coal and fossil fuels as the dominant energy sources but nonetheless renewable energy use is constantly increasing helping China to complete its economic transition and improve energy security. Because of the rapid energy development China is today the global clean energy leader as being the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels and wind turbines. Today, more than 20 percent of China's electricity comes from renewable energy sources with hydropower leading the
In 2009, China had a total installed capacity of hydropower of 197 GW. The largest hydropower project in China is Three Gorges Dam. Solar and power may be lately getting more buzz than hydropower but hydropower still remains China's top renewable energy source, even despite causing extent environmental damage in certain parts of China.
China has overall excellent wind energy potential (three quarters of the resources are offshore). China has started massive wind energy expansion in early 2000s and in 2010 overtook United States as the world's largest wind energy producer. The country has recognized wind energy as a crucial development part of the nation's economy. China is also today the world's largest producer of wind turbines, overtaking Germany, Denmark, United States and Spain.
China currently creates more 30% of the world's solar panels and it is the world's biggest producer of solar panels. Major Chinese solar panel manufacturers are these companies: Trina Solar, Suntech Power Holdings, Canadian Solar, Yingli Solar, Upsolar and Solarfun. Thin film photovoltaics manufacturers are Astronergy Solar and ENN Solar while Wafers and poly silicon manufacturers are ReneSola and LDK. Despite not having the best available solar energy resources China still plans big development in solar, hoping to achieve global lead like it has already done with wind.
Biofuel and Biomass
China is today the third largest ethanol producer in the world (behind the United States & Brazil). China currently produces around 6 megatons per year of fuel ethanol capacity, a number that is likely to increase to 15 megatons per year by 2020. On the negative note this could result in higher food prices because many Chinese farmers will start to "farm" food for biofuels. The output of corn is expected to be inadequate to produce the raw material for the crops in those areas according to planned ethanol assignments in certain provinces in China. Whether biofuel and biomass is really the way to go for China, only time will tell, though at this moment there are some serious setbacks
China has very good geothermal energy resources through the nation. There are more than 2,700 warm springs in the country (with the temperature going above 25°C). However, China has so far built only 7 geothermal power plants, and this renewable energy source is often neglected in arguments about China's clean energy future. There have been some plans that should give boost to geothermal energy development in nation, none of which serious enough to attract big investments.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Transition to renewable energy is not only priority because of the climate change but also because of the future energy security. World will eventually run out of fossil fuels and then we'll be in need of new energy sources. Nuclear is not safe, hydrogen is still more theoretical than practical solution leaving only renewable energy as the best logical choice.