China seeks to lower carbon emissions with wind, solar power

07 March 2013 23:13  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--China plans to lower its carbon emissions by retiring small, inefficient coal plants and by relying increasingly on solar and wind power, an executive with the nation's second largest renewable power producer said on Thursday.

China's recent five-year plan intends to reduce carbon intensity by 17% below the level of 2010. The country plans to achieve its carbon-emissions goal in part by reducing its reliance on coal, which accounts for 70% of its energy consumption, said Changyan Zhang, director of China Goudian Power.

Zhang made his comments at IHS CERAWeek.

Already, China has made some progress. Coal consumption per kilowatt hour (kWh) has dropped by 20% in the past 10 years, Zhang said.

Meanwhile, wind power reached about 60 gigawatts (GW) in 2012, or about 180 times the level in 2002, Zhang said. During the 2011-2015 five-year plan, wind power should grow by a further 40GW.

Solar photovoltaics reached 3.3GW in 2012, he said.

Both photovoltaics and wind turbines use significant amounts of chemicals. The blades of wind turbines are made with epoxy resins.

The interlayers of photovoltaics are made of either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyvinyl butyral (PVB).

Like many parts of the world, China faces challenges in delivering renewable power from remote producing regions to those where power demand is highest.

China plans to address this problem by building offshore wind turbines, since much of the country's energy consumption lies near the coast, Zhang said.

Nonetheless, due to its intermittent nature, it is difficult to integrate renewable energy, especially during the winter, said Zhi'an Cao, executive vice president of State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the world's largest utility.

The company is trying to address the challenges of renewable energy by pursuing various storage and smart-grid projects, he said.

While coal's share of China's power production should continue to decline, it will still make up a large portion of the country's fuel mix, said Xizhou Zhou, director of China Energy for IHS. "Coal is not going away anytime soon."

But given the sheer size of China's power market, the amount of power generated by renewables sources will still be large, Zhou said.

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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