It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kyoto - a lost hope for China?

China is growing, and a growing economy needs electricity right?

The largest power provider in the nation, Huaneng has recently announced that it is sinking 31 Billion into efforts to double its generating capacity by 2010. (Agence-France Presse via WBCSD.)

So lets see - it is 2006 now (well, nearly 2007). That means in the span of three short years the capacity ramp-up will include an increase in the company's generation of hydro and wind power of 10 to 15%, leaving a whopping 85-90% to be generated by new coal-fired power plants in order to meet this objective (many of which are either under construction, or expansions of current facilities.)

According to the Huanengn website you can find out info about their 28 of the (mainland) plants and subsidiaries, including details such as the installed capacity, power generation and output, utilization hours, and how much coal the plants use. (In theory, I suppose with those numbers, one might be able to calculate how much CO2 is generated per plant per year.)

And while the company states that their operating objectives are, "to enhance the Company's operating efficiency by actively expanding markets, strengthening production safety as well as focusing on environmental protection and cost controls," it doesn't mention what technologies these plants are using - old coal tech or new igcc plants. (Although a further search indicates these are your standard thermal fare - and, subsequently, for the record I'm not completely sold on sequestration as the solution to our CO2 problem, standard for the igcc plants, but that's a blog for another day.)

I should be focusing, as the press release did, on the fact that part of the 31 billion is going to renewables - but given that roughly 70% of China's energy is currently generated by coal-fired plants, and the energy demand is going to increase, that 10% doesn't seem all that great (despite chinese government's pledge from Jan 2006 of boosting renewable generation to 15% - up from 10% - by 2020.) Nuclear power generation in China, currently at just over 2%, won't do much to off-set the coal usage, even though nuclear generating capacity is slated to increase five times that rate - it will still only amount to 10%.

I don't doubt there will be enough energy to keep China on its upwardly mobile trek, but I do wonder what will happen when it comes time for China to sign on to the Kyoto protocol as more than a passive 'developing' country.


  • Not too mention that nuclear power requires large amounts of water for cooling, and China is in the middle of a severe drought. That also means hydropower isn't looking so hot.

    By Blogger Heidi G, at 18:16  

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