Discovery Guides Areas


China’s Surge in Renewable Energy
(Released May 2011)

  by Ethan Goffman  


Key Citations




Resources News Articles
Historical Newspapers

News Articles

  1. Beijing Sets Ambitious 10-Year Plan to Boost Renewable Energy

    Anonymous, Oil Daily, 03-03-2010

    Beijing has drafted a 10-year clean energy program intended to boost non-fossil fuels to 15% of total energy consumption by 2020. Renewable energy accounted for 9.9% of China's energy consumption in 2009, up from 8.5% in 2008.

    Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA) -- which is overseen by the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) -- says the government is ready to invest "billions" building nuclear power plants, wind farms and solar power plants, and on research into renewable energy technologies. Details of the program are expected to be announced soon.

    Ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit last December, China unveiled its first firm targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Premier Wen Jiabao said the country would aim to cut its "carbon intensity" by 40%-45% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Carbon intensity is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of GDP. ...

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  2. China's Emergence and the Prospects for Global Sustainability

    Grumbine, R Edward, Bioscience, 03-01-2007

    China's rapid, ongoing development Is deeply influencing global patterns of resource production and consumption and their associated environmental and geopolitical impacts. China leads the world in the consumption of grain, meat, coal, and steel-all the major industrial commodities except oil, for which China is second only to the United States (Brown 2006). The combination of the country's huge population and high rate of sustained economic growth is unprecedented. Yet China's per capita use of important commodities remains low. For example, on average a Chinese citizen uses 3 times less grain and 13 times less oil than a citizen of the United States. Gross domestic product (GDP) is almost 9 times less per capita in China than in the United States, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are almost 7 times less (Flavin and Gardner 2006).

    China and the rest of the rapidly developing world have so far followed the fossil fuel-based economic development model of the West. Given the size of its population and ongoing growth rate, what might be the consequences as per capita consumption in China moves closer to US levels? Even allowing for the historical inaccuracies in Chinese statistics and the uncertainties involved in predicting trends over time, projections are sobering. Assuming that China's population grows to 1.45 billion people (the United Nations median projection) and that its GDP grows by 8% per year, Brown (2006) calculated that at 2004 levels of US per capita consumption, by 2030 China would consume 66% of global grain production, 200% of world paper production, and 118% of current oil production (see also Flavin and Gardner 2006). China is on track to become the world's largest economy some time between 2025 and 2035, and it will most likely pass the United States in CO2 emissions around 2010 (EIA 2006). Given that there are no defensible ethical reasons to deny China (and the rest of the developing world) access to meat, cars, and electricity, what might be the environmental consequences if these trend projections are accurate?

    China's emergence is a complex phenomenon. By "emergence," I refer to a suite of indicators: standard measures of GDP growth and domestic per capita income, creation of a rapidly expanding consumer class, building of industrial infrastructure, and development of regional and international political authority. Taken together, these factors have dramatically boosted China's economic stature and geopolitical influence. In the following analysis, I highlight several key drivers and constraints that are likely to influence China's ongoing rise. 1 spotlight domestic and international issues that will certainly affect trend outcomes. The reader may note multiple, synergistic links within and between these factors. Finally, I offer some observations about China and the future of global sustainability that may serve as a basis for action in the short term to secure long-term future prospects. ...

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary


    Motavalli, Jim, E Magazine, 01-01-2005

    Although Europe and North America remain the largest wind energy markets, the developing world is coming on strong, and many observers believe countries like India and China (with rapidly rising power demand and major pollution problems) have the biggest potential for rapid expansion.

    In 1990, wind energy, at 20 megawatts of installed capacity, barely existed in China. At the end of 2003, China had 600 megawatts of wind power (putting it tenth on the list of largest wind producers), but much more was in development. In Guangting province, 60 miles from Beijing, Wired reports that one of the world's largest wind projects is underway and will generate 400 megawatts when it's completed.

    China is the world's number one coal consumer, using it to generate 75 percent of its power. According to Yu Jie of Greenpeace China, pollution derived from that coal use is driving the new construction. "Acid rain blankets 70 percent of the country," he says. Air pollution, especially in China's 16 of the world's top 20 dirtiest cities, kills an estimated 400,000 Chinese a year.

    China has nearly unlimited wind resources, and could eventually harness as much as 600,000 megawatts, according to Corin Millais of the European Wind Energy Association. It may take some time to get there, but projects are sprouting. GE Wind Energy is supplying 10 of its 1.5-megawatt turbines for the 15-megawatt Huitengxile Wind Power Plant in Inner Mongolia. "We look forward to future opportunities to support China's goal to bring 20 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity online by 2020," says Steve Zwolinski, president of GE's wind division. ...

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

Historical Newspapers
  1. U.S. Offers to Aid China In Energy Development; Recognition an Obstacle Discussions to Continue

    New York Times, Nov 7, 1978.

    Abstract (Summary) The United States has offered to help China develop its immense energy reserves in what would be the first joint economic venture between the two countries since the 1949 Communist takeover, Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger said today.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)


    By Neal Robbins , The Christian Science Monitor , Aug 9, 1979.

    Abstract (Summary) China once starved for food. Now it starves for energy.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  3. Economic Scene: Global Warming: China Perplex

    Passell, Peter, The New York Times, Mar 7, 1990.

    Abstract (Summary) THE bad news, say Alan S. Marine of Stanford University and Richard G. Richels of the Electric Power Research Institute, is that it would probably cost Americans trillions of dollars to reduce their output of "greenhouse effect" carbon dioxide gas by as little as 20 percent. The really bad news, the two economists say in a new, unpublished paper, is that a 20 percent cut would almost certainly be offset by increased emissions from poor countries.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.


  1. Economic growth and carbon emission control

    by Zhang, Zhenyu, Ph.D., The University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 2009, 108 pages.

    Abstract (Summary)
    The question about whether environmental improvement is compatible with continued economic growth remains unclear and requires further study in a specific context. This study intends to provide insight on the potential for carbon emissions control in the absence of international agreement, and connect the empirical analysis with theoretical framework. The Chinese electricity generation sector is used as a case study to demonstrate the problem. Both social planner and private problems are examined to derive the conditions that define the optimal level of production and pollution. The private problem will be demonstrated under the emission regulation using an emission tax, an input tax and an abatement subsidy respectively. The social optimal emission flow is imposed into the private problem. To provide tractable analytical results, a Cobb-Douglas type production function is used to describe the joint production process of the desired output and undesired output (i.e., electricity and emissions). A modified Hamiltonian approach is employed to solve the system and the steady state solutions are examined for policy implications.

    The theoretical analysis suggests that the ratio of emissions to desired output (refer to 'emission factor'), is a function of productive capital and other parameters. The finding of non-constant emission factor shows that reducing emissions without further cutting back the production of desired outputs is feasible under some circumstances. Rather than an ad hoc specification, the optimal conditions derived from our theoretical framework are used to examine the relationship between desired output and emission level.

    Data comes from the China Statistical Yearbook and China Electric Power Yearbook and provincial information of electricity generation for the year of 1993-2003 are used to estimate the Cobb-Douglas type joint production by the full information maximum likelihood (FIML) method. The empirical analysis shed light on the optimal policies of emissions control required for achieving the social goal in a private context. The results suggest that the efficiency of abatement technology is crucial for the timing of executing the emission tax. And emission tax is preferred to an input tax, as long as the detection of emissions is not costly and abatement technology is efficient.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  2. Democracy and the environment---a study of China's sulfur dioxide emission goal and sulfur dioxide scrubbers in the 11th Five-Year Plan

    by Xu, Yuan, Princeton University, 2010 , 310 pages.

    Abstract (Summary)
    Democracy is sometimes argued for the environment. If right, China as a non-democracy might see less hope. Through studying China's SO 2 emission goal and SO 2 scrubbers in the 11 th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), this dissertation examines whether China is able to meet tough environmental goals with unprecedentedly detailed data from various Chinese sources and the author's field trips.

    No consensus was found on the relationship between democracy and the environment in theoretical and empirical literatures. An empirical study in this dissertation particularly for SO 2 emissions detected no consistent and statistically significant signal either.

    In the 11 th Five-Year Plan, the entire Chinese government was mobilized to bring down the national SO 2 emissions in 2010 by 10% from the 2005 level. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic in spring 2003 contributed to making a new Chinese central government more intent on environmental protection. The national goal was divided and distributed to local governments and effective incentives were put into place to force their cooperation. Much attention was paid to institutional capacity building that would benefit not only the short-term SO 2 mitigation but also a long-term success.

    In each year during 2006-2008, China installed over 100 GW e of SO 2 scrubbers in coal power plants, equivalent to the entire fleet that the United States accumulated over three decades. In 2008, the spending was over $6 billion in constructing, operating and maintaining SO 2 scrubbers. However, many SO 2 scrubbers were not effectively running. Together with continuous emission monitoring systems, China's new and strengthened economic-incentive policies greatly improved the operation. Consistent biases were found in China's official SO 2 emission data. During 1998-2007, China's coal power plants should have emitted generally over a third more SO 2 than announced. In 2008, SO 2 emissions were reduced to about half of the 2005 level for one kWh of coal electricity.

    The 11 th Five-Year Plan could mark China's historical shift in environmental protection. China's good performance was also expected from goal setting theory in social psychology. This newly gained confidence could accelerate China's cleaning up the environment as well as the commitment of CO 2 mitigation.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  3. Ending rural development vulnerability: Employing a subsistence perspective to address the energy needs of remote communities in western China

    by Zhang, Xilin, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2010 , 314 pages.

    Abstract (Summary)
    For the majority of people in rural communities of developing countries, reliable and sustainable energy services are not only desirable but also essential for development and livelihood improvement. In China, despite many efforts implemented in remote areas by the government and international agencies to improve livelihood conditions, the vulnerability of these communities persists because the energy and development in these areas continue to experience pressing issues. Addressing the vulnerability and meeting future energy demand of remote rural communities requires looking at energy and development from a different perspective.

    The dissertation analyzes development interventions, including the inherent flaws of conventional energy-development model and the limitations of its sustainable remedy. It then revisits the linkage between energy services and development in remote rural contexts from the subsistence perspective, and develops a "subsistence energy discourse" for rural society. In order to understand how the subsistence energy discourse can help shape a genuine development agenda, socioeconomic assessment of renewable energy projects implemented in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang of western China was conducted. It was found that renewable energy options, as emerging subsistence energy discourse, improved the livelihood of remote rural communities and empowered them in a fundamental way. A crucial feature of the renewable energy projects that contributed in this regard was that the renewable energy technologies could fit local circumstances well and be combined with indigenous knowledge. Further, several important issues, including energy demand beyond basic livelihoods needs and income generation and economic development of remote communities, highlight the continuous implementation of the subsistence energy regime and transformation of the economic development model. For livelihood-centered economic development, remote areas need to build decentralized and locally-adapted production and business around renewable energy service provision, while changing the existing development framework in urban areas which depends on the conventional energy prescription. Finally, the dissertation offers overarching policy strategies for employing the subsistence energy and development framework to meet future energy demands and achieve well-being of remote rural communities. This dissertation hopes to be a timely discussion on a topic of importance to remote rural societies that points out the need for adjustment of the policy framework of rural energy and development, not only in China, but also to guide similar considerations in other parts of the developing world. It is also expected to contribute by assisting government and international agencies make future decisions to steer rural society toward energy, ecological, societal, and lifestyle sustainability.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database