Clean energy has eco­nomic ben­e­fits for China

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington

With wind and so­lar power be­com­ing more af­ford­able and a lower-car­bon trans­for­ma­tion in full swing, clean energy could give China a more dy­namic econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts on a panel Tues­day at the Wil­son Cen­ter in Washington.

This event was themed How­toDe­car­bonizeChina’s Pow­erSec­tor. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ad­dressed cli­mate change as a top pri­or­ity in his speech to the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York on Mon­day.

“In 2025, al­ter­na­tives like so­lar and wind power will be com­pet­i­tive in the energy mar­ket. In this con­text, China has to make strate­gic changes to main­tain eco­nomic growth in the mean­time be­ing free of a more ex­pen­sive energy sup­ply,” said Jon Creyts, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the Rocky Moun­tain In­sti­tute, which is ded­i­cated to re­search on prof­itable in­no­va­tions on energy ef­fi­ciency.

“It also leads to a much, much cleaner, low-car­bon grind,” he said. “This is a cheaper ap­proach for China to achieve eco­nomic growth in the fu­ture. We are mov­ing from 80 per­cent coal to some­thing sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent in one of the most com­plex ma­chines that hu­man be­ings can ever build.

“That is the Chi­nese power grind,” Creyts said. “More miles of dis­tri­bu­tion, more gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity than any other grind in the world. And we need to think about what it is go­ing to take to achieve it.”

Be­sides a com­mit­ment to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, China is driven to clean energy by do­mes­tic de­mand for cheaper energy and a less-pol­luted en­vi­ron­ment, said Jen­nifer Turner, a se­nior scholar at the Wil­son Cen­ter.

“In 2014, less than 10 per­cent of peo­ple were liv­ing in ex­treme poverty,” Creyts said. “And the elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion has also been on the rise from the 300 hours kilowatts per capita in 1980 to 4,100 hours kilo­watt. So the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and ur­ban­iza­tion is cor­re­lated with the over­all eco­nomic pro­duc­tiv­ity that lifts the coun­try out of poverty.”

Fredrick

We s t o n , di­rec­tor of the Reg­u­la­tory As­sis­tance Pro­ject’s China Pro­gram, em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of a more ef­fi­cient power model.

Mega-cities in China also fa­cil­i­tate low-car­bon energy trans­for­ma­tion in China.

“This is a big move­ment that has shifted,” Creyts said. “Eco-cities did have lit­tle po­lit­i­cal power. But now what we see, in par­tic­u­lar two weeks ago in the (cli­mate-change) meet­ing in Los An­ge­les, is that you have 11 cities in dif­fer­ent prov­inces that have stepped up, and they are go­ing to be the front-run­ner of the low-car­bon trans­for­ma­tion in China.

“And those prov­inces and cities all agreed to peak early ahead of 2030,” he said.

China has to make strate­gic changes to main­tain eco­nomic growth in the mean­time be­ing free of a more ex­pen­sive energy sup­ply.”

Pan Jialiang con­trib­uted to this story.

Jon Creyts, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Rocky Moun­tain In­sti­tute

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