One of the points of having a large-scale renewable energy project in the Mongolian Gobi desert is that it would be close to China, where replacing coal is one of the most urgent tasks.
Therefore, it is of interest to take a look at China’s 2012 Energy Policy. This will be mainly a collection of some facts I thought noteworthy, without much comment.
China has installed 230 GW of hydro power already in 2011, which is the most world wide. And it has resources of 542 GW, so there is still a lot of development possible. They want to get to 290 GW of hydro until 2015.
They also plan to get to 40 GW of nuclear until then.
China already has the most wind capacity in the world, and its wind industry is growing at the fastest pace. They plan reaching 100 GW of capacity until 2015.
China is also catching up in solar. The installed capacity was basically zero a couple of years ago but is supposed to reach 21 GW until 2015. They have a feed-in tariff system for wind and solar, so I expect them to reach those goals.
In 2011, non-fossil energy sources were still only 8% of primary energy, but that saved 600 million tons of CO2 emissions, or about three quarters of Germany’s whole emissions.
China is the world’s largest energy producer, with a rate of self-sufficiency of 90 percent.
The policy paper has this to say about CO2 emissions:
It is stipulated in the Outline of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for National Economic and Social Development that by 2015 non-fossil energy will rise to 11.4 percent in the national total primary energy consumption, energy consumption per unit of GDP will drop by 16 percent from 2010, and CO2 emission per unit of GDP will decrease by 17 percent from 2010.
The Chinese government has made the commitment that by 2020 non-fossil energy will account for 15 percent of its total primary energy consumption, and CO2 emission per unit of GDP will be 40-45 percent lower than in 2005. As a responsible nation, China will make every effort to fulfill its commitment.
I note that while China has not yet made any such “commitment” in any international framework, it does seem to be quite serious in the effort to reduce CO2 emissions, while growing its economy. I think this is worth much more than any international promise.
They don’t want Shanghai to sink. And they have the necessary ability to view things with a long term perspective.
Update: This Bloomberg article says that China has increased output of clean energy sources (renewable plus nuclear) by 48% from one year ago and got 810.2 GWh for the year from last October, to account for 20.4% of on-grid electricity. That’s more than Germany generates from all sources.