Solar Power In China Report
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Energy Use in China
Production and Consumption Rates
Impacts of Fossil Fuel Use in China
Available Alternative Energy Sources
Potential Generation Power
12th Five Year Plan
Using Solar Power in China
Solar Industry in China
Reasons to Consider Solar Power
Scarcity of Oil
China is known nowadays as one of the fastest growing economies in the globe, rivaling the United States and other developed nations in terms of its overall progress. Many factors have been attributed to China’s sudden rise to power, but it is most notable that people agree that its continuously moving industries have been vital to the country’s progress. However, as many of these industries are fueled by fossil fuel, appeals have been growing around the country to use other forms of energy to combat the impacts of global warming and save the dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Although the issue on too much fossil fuel use is clearly visible in the Chinese skyline, the possibility of using an alternative energy source is unfathomable. Regardless of such skepticism, using alternative energy such as solar power to replace Chinese consumption on fossil fuel would be advantageous to China as it would sustain China’s need for power, reduce pollution and reduce importation costs on fossil fuel and explorations.
Energy Use In China
When it comes to discussing the world’s top fossil fuel users and producers, the list would no doubt rank China next to the United States and stress the possibility of China ranking number one in the future. According to the US Energy Information Administration (2014), China is currently ranked fourth in producing oil worldwide but its production rate has risen by up to 54% for the past two decades. The country continues to produce an estimated 4.5 million barrels of oil per day and possesses 24.4 billion barrels of oil reserves still untapped in its territory. It is expected that the Chinese production would reach up to 4.6 million bbl/d in 2020 and 5.6 million bbl/d by 2040 once its reserves have been fully developed , easily topping off the United States as the world’s largest oil producer. In terms of oil consumption, China has gradually slowed due to the financial crisis but remains on the top oil consumers in the globe with 10.7 million bbl/d used in 2013 alone. The EIA projects that China would likely to beat the US on consumption figures as China is estimated grow in oil consumption by up to 11.1 million bbl/d and its import levels may reach up to 6.6 million bbl/d in comparison to the 5.5 million bbl/d imports of the United States.
In order to sustain its oil production growth, China has launched several exploration operations around its territories, such as Xinjiang, Sichuan, Gansu and Mongolia, and offshore regions like the contested islands in the South China Sea. China had invested up to $13 billion for exploration as a means to reduce their oil imports. The Chinese oil explorations were fruitful as the northeastern and north central territories were discovered to have high oil reserves. The Daqing field, for example, is one of China’s oldest oil fields and produced more than 800,000 bbl/d of crude oil per year. Shengli near Bohai Bay produced 550,000 bbl/d of crude oil, which made it China’s second largest oil producing field. The country has also begun several projects to improve its pipeline network and the world’s oil routes. At the present time, China has 14,658 crude oil pipelines and 11,795 miles of domestic pipelines around the territory. Russia, Kazakhstan and Siberia had already opened talks with China with regards to connecting its pipelines to China, increasing China’s imports to an estimated 2 million bbl/d per year .
However, China’s heavy use of fossil fuel has its downsides especially to the country’s economy and environment. Spross (2014) stated that China constantly experiences erratic climate patterns as a result of constant fossil fuel use. In May 2014, the country has experienced a massive heatwave ranging up to 41.1ºC throughout the country. The temperature reports broke their all-time records as the last recorded highs was recorded in 2001. Aside from these heatwaves, experts have recorded high concentrations of air pollution containing fine particles such as PM2.5, known to come from toxic chemicals and proven to cause cardiovascular diseases and premature death . Of course, these environmental impacts have its consequences to the Chinese economy as stated by Matus, et al (2012) in their studies. The country has already lost almost $112 billion worth of damages, labor losses and medical expenses due to the increasing levels of pollution affecting Chinese citizens. With most of them getting sick and unable to stand the concentration of both pollution and daily exposure to chemicals or substances, it led to high rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases victims and affected many industries. It is estimated that the country would also lose up to $69 billion dollars of consumption if nothing is done with their environmental policies .
With the growing discussions on global warming and the reduction of fossil fuel use, China has also entered the field of renewable energy development. In the report done by Meisen and Hawkins for the Global Energy Network Institute (2009), the country has established its plans to install various renewable energy sources in the country under the 10th five-year plan initiatives. The plan would ensure the increase in solar, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and nuclear power capacities around the country, which can increase energy production to an estimated 200 GW per year. Hydropower is currently China’s largest renewable energy source with the capacity of producing 423 billion KwH per year. Studies have identified that China can produce 500 KwH per year once the projects such as in the Three Gorges Dam (Yangtze) and Yellow River are fully developed. Nuclear power follows hydroelectricity with eleven active nuclear power plants and 17 intended sites around the country.
Wind Power is another notable renewable energy currently being developed in China since it was given emphasis in previous Five Year Plans. Since 1990, the country’s wind power is now developing up to 567 MW to 12.2 GW worth of power. The government has also intervened consistently to develop the country’s wind market through the National Development and Reform Commission. The Commission has enacted the “Wind Power Concession Project” which would reduce tariff rates for windfarms around the country within a 20 year period. Biomass is another known alternative energy used in China, especially because of its rural population. It is estimated that 4 billion tons of crop residues and wood fuels are being used in rural areas, prompting the government to create biomass fields for many provinces of the country. Capital cost of using biomass in power generation is also perceived to be cheaper than fossil fuel by up to 70%, which is why the government is considering it as a possible energy producer for the provincial areas .
China’s renewable energy sources is still untapped to its full potential as China’s current energy preference is fossil fuel. According to Liu, Lund and Mathiesen (2009), China’s renewable energy capacity can generate as much as 110 GW to 6000 TWh per year depending on the renewable energy source in question. With this immense potential to harness additional energy, China has constantly been adopting several policies to utilize alternative energy such as the Middle and Long-term Development Programming for Renewable Energy and the various Five Year Development Programming for Renewable Energy . In the 12th Five Year Plan released by the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China (2012), China is intending to increase renewable energy use by up to 30% by developing non-fossil fuel plants by 2015. Additional plans are also drafted to include distribution of renewable energy appliances and machines to small cities and towns as a means to introduce alternative energy to the public .
Solar Power in China
With the immense potential of renewable energy sources in China, major focus is also directed to solar power which is one of China’s largest renewable energy sources. According to Liu, Lund and Mathiesen (2009), Chinese solar power is expected to generate 792 PJ by 2010 from its original developing capacity of 142 PJ in 2006. The photovoltaic systems installed throughout the country could produce 0.11 TWh and currently being used by 50% of the rural population in the country. If the country continues to further hone its solar power capacities, it is likely to generate up to 1756 PJ or more by 2020 . Additional solar power plants have been created in 2009 in the Qinghai and Yunnan regions, as well as a 100-megawatt solar power farm in Gansu. The country had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with First Solar to create the largest solar farm in the globe within Inner Mongolia that has a capacity of 2GW . In the recent list done by the company IHS on the top solar power manufacturers in the globe, Wang (2014) reported that Chinese companies Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy are the world’s top shippers of solar panels in the planet. Other Chinese-based solar manufacturers included in the list are Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar, Hanwha SolarOne and JA Solar .
Reasons to Consider Solar Power
China should consider improving their solar power capacity because it has the potential to replace the generated energy capacity rate of fossil fuel and provide more to the country. First and foremost, fossil fuel is starting to dwindle in number due to the constant demand of various nations. According to the assessment of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2015), there is still 1.3 trillion barrels of oil left which could last for 40 more years. A majority of today’s oil reserves are located in the Middle East, but these reserves can easily dwindle in number if consumption rates continue to increase per year due to industrialization . If solar power is supported in China, China still has the potential to tap to almost 30,000 PJ worth of energy source even after fossil fuel runs out . Pollution can also be remedied once China indeed pushes for further solar power according to Bloomberg (2015) because it will reduce China’s emission rates by up 3 to 5% per year. With the stability of solar power as an energy source, the economic growth of the country would also be sustained considering it would not worry about fossil fuel running out. The country also hopes to get more than 21 billion yuan or $3.4 billion worth of investments to facilitate research and development in solar power generation for the next coming years .
It is undeniable that China is becoming a frontrunner in all aspects of the international arena, most especially as an economic powerhouse. If given enough time, China would be able to unseat the United States as the world’s only superpower. However, its rate of improvement has its consequences especially due to the fact many of its industries are running on fossil fuel, a known contributor to environmental problems such as global warming. Although China has conceded on considering the use of alternative energies, the Chinese government should strive harder to increase alternative energy production, especially solar power, because of its endless potential to replace the dwindling sources of fossil fuel around the globe. Not only does China have an abundance of solar power in its midst, the use of such renewable energy would be beneficial for China’s growing economy and the recovery of its environment. If China does not start harnessing their untapped energy source, they may find themselves completely vulnerable once fossil fuel runs out completely.
Bloomberg. (2015, April 8). China's Pollution Assault Boosting Solar, Electric Vehicles. Retrieved from Bloomberg Business: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-08/china-s-pollution-assault-boosting-solar-electric-vehicles
Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. (2012). China's Energy Policy 2012. Retrieved from Official Publications of the Central People's Government of the Republic of China: http://www.gov.cn/english/official/2012-10/24/content_2250497_5.htm
Liu, W., Lund, H., & Mathiesen, B. V. (2009). The Potential of Renewable Energy Systems in China. 5th Dubrovnik Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy Water and Environment Systems (pp. 1-13). Zagreb: University of Zagreb.
Matus, K., Nam, K.-M., Selin, N., Lamsal, L., Reilly, J., & Paltsev, S. (2011). Health damages from air pollution in China. Global Environmetal Change, 22, 55-66.
Meisen, P., & Hawkins, S. (2009). Renewable Energy Potential of China: Making the Transition from Coal-Fired Generation. San Diego: Global Energy Network Institute.
Spross, J. (2014, June 2). Heat and Grit: The Consequences of Fossil Fuels Come to China Again. Retrieved from Climate Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/02/3443691/china-heat-particle-pollution/
US Energy Information Administration. (2014). China. Washington, D.C.: US Energy Information Administration.
Wang, U. (2014, December 3). Guess Who Are the Top 10 Solar Panel Makers in the World? Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2014/12/03/guess-who-are-the-top-10-solar-panel-makers-in-the-world/2/
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