China wants to diversify its energy sources
China, which continues its economic and demographic development will eventually be the first polluter of the planet
The International Energy Agency estimates that China and India will together overtake the United States (the first polluter) to 2015.
While the management of the environment remains a problem still opaque in China as evidenced by the recent benzene pollution of the Songhua River, this country is turning more and more towards renewable energies as an auxiliary solution to its development.
China: a new energy chasm ...
Recall that China is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic countries on the planet with a growth of 9% in 2004 and a population which represents almost 20% of Humanity.
China, which is not required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, is now the second largest consumer of oil after the United States. It is also the world's leading producer and consumer of coal, one of the most polluting sources of energy, which supplies almost 70% of its energy needs.
“China is already the first polluter in certain areas such as sulfur dioxide emissions. Overall, it is now in second place, but it should pass the United States within ten years ”, estimates Professor Gérald Fryxell, specialist in sustainable development at the China European international Business School in Shanghai. He also adds - a problem experienced by industrialized societies -: "China can always reduce the proportion of oil and coal in its energy sources, it will still continue to consume more," says Gérald Fryxell. In fact, consumption is constantly increasing, whether in France where the population is aging or in China where it is increasing considerably given the current size of its population…
… Which relies heavily on coal
The United States, Australia, China, India and South Korea revealed on July 28, 2005 the existence of an alternative project to the Kyoto Protocol. This alliance, called "Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate" also has the final objective of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to mitigate the current climate change. However, the means that will be put in place favor the setting up of clean and advanced technologies around the exploitation of coal.
"We think that the most important thing for China is to make its coal clean with processes like gasification," adds Emiliano Cecchini, project manager of the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection, based in Shanghai. 650 million euros will also be invested to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions resulting from the combustion of coal.
Chinese cities are affected by sulfur dioxide pollution
According to a recent study by the Chinese Institute of Environmental Sciences and Qinghua University, out of 338 Chinese cities where air quality is measured, nearly two-thirds (63,5%) have a level of pollution from the air considered moderate or severe, the most affected regions being the south and southwest of the country.
Sulfur dioxide emissions are increasing rapidly in China, mainly due to the heavy use of poor quality coal or outdated combustion techniques in thermal power plants. Sulfur dioxide emissions amounted to 6,6 million tonnes in 2002 and will reach 12,86 million tonnes in 2005 if they continue to increase at the current rate, according to the study. In total, 30% of the Chinese territory suffers from acid rain.
The European Space Agency (ESA) showed, in early September 2005, on a map produced by the Envisat satellite, the extent of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution over Beijing and northeast China. It is in fact the biggest cloud of pollution in the world as a result of China's spectacular economic growth over the past ten years.
Nitrogen oxides are massively emitted by cars and stationary sources of combustion such as thermal power plants for electricity production, heating installations, heavy industries, forest fires or even incineration plants. NOx are at the origin of acid deposition with SO2 and participate in photochemical pollution by causing the production of tropospheric ozone which is a factor of excess mortality.
Towards an energy diversification
However, China wishes to reduce part of its dependence on coal, the extraction of which also costs the lives of thousands of miners each year. The Energy Research Institute in China expects a reduction of 10% within 15 years. And, recently, the China Daily reported that the construction of new coal-fired power plants was now banned in Beijing, Shanghai and 21 provincial capitals.
To do this, China announced in early November, an investment of 180 billion dollars to develop renewable energies and increase from 7% to 15% their share in global energy consumption in 2020. "China encourages companies to use d 'Other sources of energy, such as solar or wind energy, by reducing certain taxes,' explains Han Zhengguo, analyst for the Haitong Securities financial group in Shanghai.
Finally, China is also investing in nuclear power with the support of France since by 2020, 40 nuclear power plants will be built.