Recent Harvard-led study suggests that China can satisfy its energy demand,at least until 2030 solely on wind power. China wind power 2030 US green economy
America invented the renewable energy industry but China is surging ahead with its renewables program and is on track to overtake the US as the world’s largest market for new wind power installations. A study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and China’s Tsinghua University suggests that the Chinese will be able to meet all their electricity demands by 2030, solely through wind power generation.
The study, published last week in the journal Science, used meteorological and financial modeling to ascertain that there is enough strong wind in China to meet the country’s energy demands until 2030. Calculating the cost of energy generated through wind power as a “function’ to the cost of installing wind turbines in areas of the country where strong winds prevail, the researchers found out that wind farm operators can produce 6.96 trillion kwh of wind power (which meets the 2030 projected electricity demand) at a cost of 0.516 Chinese yuan (7.5 cents) per kwh.
It’s unlikely that the Chinese will rely exclusively on wind power, no matter how viable it appears to be, as they are also actively pursuing other alternative energy sources like solar and biofuels. The Chinese have recognized the trend towards rapid urbanization in their population and are pragmatically moving to meet the huge energy demands that their mega-cities would require in the next 30-50 years. Fossil fuels are finite resources, the only way they can sustain such high energy demands is through renewables.
Watch: CNN’s John Vause reports on China’s wind powered energy.
What is the implication of this to America?
The China Greentech Initiative, a group of more than 80 leading technology companies, NGOs and policy advisers, identified China to be a $500 billion to $1 trillion a year market for “green technologies.” The current renewable energy building boom in China will benefit both Chinese and foreign companies, including US companies, as they race towards energy self-sufficiency through renewables in the next several years.
And guess what? It’s not just China but the entire world that’s poised to embrace carbon-neutral green technology to hold climate change to just 2 degrees celsius in the next 20 years.
As reported in the Washington Post, the U.S. International Energy Agency estimates the global spending towards this end at $9 trillion. Leading leading venture capitalist John Doerr calls this the “largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”
Will the US seize this opportunity?
Government support is crucial for private investors in the US to aggressively position themselves right in the middle of this green economic wave. Richard Gledhill, global leader of Climate Change & Carbon Market Services in London for PricewaterhouseCoopers has this to say:
The private sector has a key role to play in delivering the required investment at the scale required to avoid dangerous climate change. But it will only do this if there is a clear, long-term policy framework to underpin prospects of a reasonable return.
In a recent article in Politico, John Podesta, Bracken Hendricks and Kate Gordon emphasized the role of the private sector in the green economy:
Let’s be clear: Private capital investment will be the main engine driving growth in a low-carbon economy, and the vast majority of jobs will be created by businesses both large and small — not by government.
It will be entrepreneurs who develop innovative technology to make energy without pollution. Local contractors will retrofit our homes. Utility companies will rewire the electric grid. And manufacturing firms will be the ones making energy-efficient appliances — and making a profit when consumers buy them.
Unfortunately, current discussions in the Senate to pass a bill that would allow the US to transition towards a clean energy economy are being muddled with disinformation and obstruction by entrenched interests and their strident hacks.
Here’s the bottom line. It’s pure economics. Even if everyone in the US, for the sake of argument, denies global warming or climate change, the rest of the world believes in it. And those other countries will be spending trillions of dollars to hold, slow down, and mitigate the effects of climate change through green technology. The irony is, if we have to get a slice of that big pie, we’d have to transform our economy into a clean energy economy and pass legislation to encourage the private sector to pour in investments in green technology.
Even if we don’t believe in it.
MIT Technology Review: China’s Potent Wind Potential
Politico: End dirty tricks on clean energy push
Photo: “Untitled” by dbking on Flickr