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 leading polluter) around 2015.
While environmental management remains a still opaque problem 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 additional solution to its development.
China: a new energy chasm ...
Remember 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 nearly 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 largest producer and consumer of coal, one of the most polluting energy sources, which supplies nearly 70% of its energy needs.
“China is already the top polluter in certain areas such as sulfur dioxide emissions. Overall, it is now in second place, but it should overtake the United States within ten years ”, estimates Professor Gérald Fryxell, specialist in sustainable development at the China European International Business School in Shanghai. He adds, moreover - a problem experienced by industrialized societies -: "China can always reduce the proportion of petroleum and coal in its energy sources, it will nevertheless continue to consume more of it," says Gerald Fryxell. Indeed, consumption continues to increase, 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 ongoing climate change. However, the resources that will be put in place favor the implementation of clean and advanced technologies around coal mining.
“We believe 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 to be medium or severe, the most affected regions being the south and southwest of the country.
Sulfur dioxide emissions are increasing rapidly in China, notably 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 grow at the current rate, according to the study. In total, 30% of 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 north-eastern China. It is in fact the largest cloud of pollution in the world as a result of China's spectacular economic growth over the past decade.
Nitrogen oxides are emitted on a massive scale by cars and stationary combustion sources such as thermal power plants, 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 generating the production of tropospheric ozone which is a factor of excess mortality.
Towards an energy diversification
However, China wants to reduce some of its dependence on coal, the extraction of which also costs the lives of thousands of miners every year. The China Energy Research Institute expects a reduction of 10% within 15 years. And, recently, the China Daily reported that 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 their share in global energy consumption from 7% to 15% in 2020. “China encourages companies to use energy sources. 'other sources of energy, such as solar or wind power, by relieving certain taxes,' explains Han Zhengguo, analyst for the financial group Haitong Securities 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.