Relying on coal for roughly 80% of its power generation (using more than the U.S., the European Union and Japan, combined), China is scrambling to integrate more clean energy into its overall energy mix. After all, China's carbon emissions from coal surpassed U.S. emissions back in 2007, and the country has also become the world's largest emitter of mercury (primarily due to its burning of coal).
And don't think for a second that this is only a China problem either. Back in 2006, a U.S. satellite tracked a cloud of carbon, sulfur compounds and other byproducts of coal combustion from Northern China to the West Coast of the United States. It has been estimated that it takes anywhere between five to 10 days for China's coal-fired power plant pollution to travel to the U.S.
So it wasn't surprising when we heard yesterday that Sun Qin, the deputy head of the National Energy Administration(NEA), announced that China will issue a new plan by the end of the year to bolster clean energy development.
There wasn't much beyond that announcement. But according to Shi Lishan, deputy director of renewable energy at the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government will invest more than $14.6 billion to double its wind-power capacity by 2010. China's wind power capacity is actually expected to triple from 2008 levels, reaching 30,000 megawatts by the end of 2010.
Incidentally, on Saturday, construction began on China's first 10 gigawatt wind power base. The NEA has a total of seven planned in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Hebei and Jiangsu.
China has also upped the ante on solar integration. Last month, the Chinese government announced that it plans to subsidize 50 percent of the costs of building solar power projects and transmission to facilitate these projects. And for projects in remote areas that are not grid-connected, that incentive increases to 70 percent.