With the new political landscape in the US, climate change deniers are front and center, and there is uncertainty of policies and solutions moving forward. It may come as a surprise to some, but it’s China who is stepping firmly in the opposite direction.
The Chinese government energy agency has just announced its plan to spend over $361 billion in renewable energy sources over the next five years. As part of their plan, they are hoping the investment will result in the creation of 13 million jobs in the sector by 2020, an effort that will see them moving away from dirty coal-powered stations to clean energy sources.
With China’s plan to invest incredibly heavily on renewables, their position as the leader in clean energy continues. Last year, green energy gained ground and generated more than half of net electricity to the global grid, and China’s contribution has put them at the top of the list. It’s estimated that China’s efforts will contribute to 40% of the expected green energy growth over the next five years.
With an awful reputation for dirty coal, notably for horrendous smog events in urban centers, this is slowly starting to lift. Their serious air pollution problem is without a doubt contributing to such an intense focus to wean itself off coal. Even over the past three years there has been a decline in how much coal the country used.
It’s clear that China has already been investing in renewable energy quite heavily, with solar being a strong area of focus. China has already doubled their number of solar installations, and with continued investment, this will undoubtedly skyrocket. At present, one of the world’s largest solar farms is under construction of the Ningxia region. Spanning an astonishing 4,607 hectares (11,400 acres), it will have 6 million solar panels, which will create a capacity of a whopping 2 gigawatts – more than all of Thailand’s solar output.
This growth has partially been due to the continued advancement in solar, which has cut the cost of large-scale solar plants by as much as 40 percent. However, China isn’t restricting their investment to solar alone. They have also been expanding their wind power over the past few years, and they plan to invest $100 billion of the announced investment in wind power initiatives. Money will also flow into geothermal, tidal and hydropower.
While China’s impressive vision and actions show a path to a sustainable future, in the short-term more than half of their installed power capacity will still be fueled by coal.
Even so, for a nation known for their significant contribution of carbon emissions, they are definitely picking up slack to do their fair share to help solve a problem that will affect us all.
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