- Sometimes looks can be deceiving. China has recently surpassed the US becoming the world’s largest emitter of CO2. They also suffer from terrible air pollution and currently build the equivalent of a 400MW coal fired power station every 3 days. This does not suggest China is not helping its people to tackle energy and environmental issues.
- Closer inspection reveals that China is also erecting 36 wind turbines a day and building a new electricity grid to manage the renewable inputs. Typifying this expansion is the region of Jiuquan where wind power generates 6GW (equivalent to the entire UK), a value expected to triple by 2015. With long-term ambitions to supply 15% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 the immediate aim is to wean the country off of coal.
- Though advancement of renewable energy is rapid, China acknowledges that change is not immediate. Four in five major cities are expected to not meet air pollution standards, and water quality and biodiversity are under tremendous pressure. By transitioning from coal to renewable energy China is keen to address these broader environmental issues.
- For the UK, China is an excellent example of a country forging progress under a cloud of uncertainty. Rather than dwell on the economics of change China has incrementally progressed their renewable agenda, which also provides additional value by tackling long term environmental concerns. Indeed, China’s activities are going a long way to rejuvenate slumping local economies and by generating a wealth of skilled labour they are positioning themselves as a global leader in renewable energy deployment.
The question for Government is one of opportunity, namely, how to position the UK environmental service sector to capitalise on growth in the Chinese renewable markets.
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