Renewable energy projects on track, CPPCC panel says

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 12, 2012
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China will continue to develop new solar, nuclear, wind and hydroelectric power projects in the coming year, despite mounting concerns over safety and feasibility, top scientists and engineers at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said Sunday at a press conference.

With increased pollution and inadequate fuel resources, increased demand for renewable energy is inevitable, the panelists said.

The country will follow its commitments at the Summit of Climate Change in 2009 to increase the proportion of energy produced by renewable power to 15 percent by 2020.

Although reducing pollution remains the major task for China's energy strategy, developing new, sustainable clean energy sources is an integral part of the government's plan.

Niu Wenyuan is the Counselor to the State's Council and member of Third World Academy of Sciences. []

"The world can no longer afford our increasing consumption of fossil energy," said Niu Wenyuan, a top scientist from the sustainable strategic development group of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). "The exhaustion of energy [sources] can only be avoided by the adoption of clean energy."

The country generated 73.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind last year, equivalent to burning 30 million tons of coal, according to Shao Bingren, deputy director of CPPCC's Committee of the Population, Resources and Environment.

Yet developing alternative energy sources is not without its concerns. In addition to the high cost, safety remains a major issue, especially for nuclear energy. Mar. 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, one of the largest nuclear catastrophes since the 1986 incident in Chernobyl.

A few weeks before China's Two Sessions began, theoretical physicist and researcher He Zuoxiu from CAS bashed the idea of building inland nuclear power plants, saying it would increase the risk of a devastating disasters or terrorist attack.

However, energy experts at Sunday's press conference said due to the lack of resources, especially in the country's interior, the demand for nuclear energy remains high.

"The safety of inland nuclear power plants is guaranteed as much as [plants] in coastal regions," said Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation Ltd.

"China has very strict rules for building and maintaining nuclear power plants, and there will not be 'Great Leap' in the industry," he said. According to Wang, China's nuclear power plants use the most advanced technologies, including Westinghouse Electric Company AP1000 reactors.

Industrial insiders have already reached the consensus that building inland nuclear power plants is feasible, Wang said. Besides, the success of the United States and other countries in building inland plants adds support to the plan, he said. Though expensive, the development of solar and wind energy needs to be continued in more organized and structured way, according to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The United States' recently imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels have dealt a big blow to local manufacturers, many who primarily make the panels for export.

Despite the setback, Li Hejun, Chairman from the Hanergy Holding Group, one of China's largest solar and wind power companies, said the duties could be a boon for Chinese innovation.

"If we look at the anti-dumping duties imposed by the United States with a positive view, we would find them a stimulus for Chinese manufacturers to update their technologies and help reduce surplus influx."

Technology from private solar energy companies in China has the potential to surpass competitors in the United States and Europe, Li said. The industry is aware of the importance of upgrading technology and will invest more money in research and development, he said.

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