Wind Energy in China

The University of Pennsylvania is not the only institution going environmentally-friendly. The cover story of this week’s Science estimates that China has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% if wind energy contributes 18.5% of total electricity production by 2030, a reasonable goal despite previous projections of less than 3% by 2020. Currently China stands as the world’s largest CO emitter, and air quality concerns shadowed the Beijing Olympics last summer. But China is also the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, with 152 GW of installed renewable capacity in 2007 according to a report by the Climate Group. Wind energy accounts for 12.2 GW, but is aiming for 100GW by 2020. The report in Science concluded from meteorological data that wind energy could maximally power seven times China’s current energy consumption, but the more reasonable estimate of 640GW by 2030 would require China to invest about $900 billion.
The government does seem to be committed enough to renewable energy resources to meet this mark; China’s $586 billion May stimulus package includes $221 billion for energy conservation, emissions control, and environmental protection. However, this may be an optimistic estimate. Most of the $221 billion will be spent on rebuilding infrastructure instead of direct investment in renewable resources. Nevertheless, China is stepping up its green energy spending to include not just wind but also solar, nuclear, bioenergy and hydroelectricity in preparation for the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference in December.
- Submitted by Rosie Li (CAS '11)