Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Big Blow-Hards

So maybe there's more to the Chinese government's recent environmental policies than nice-sounding rhetoric. From Howard French of the NY Times, via his blog, A Glimpse of the World , comes this report on China's pursuit of wind power:
By 2020, starting from a minuscule base that it has established only recently, China expects to supply 10 percent of its needs from so-called renewable energy sources, including wind, solar energy, small hydroelectric dams and biomass like plant fibers and animal wastes.

So far, wind power is making the most impressive strides, so much so that even if Mr. Li’s boast of soon having the largest wind farm in Asia comes true, he will have plenty of competition within China alone.

Already, large wind farms are sprouting up in much more heavily populated provinces, like Guangdong, Fujian and Hebei, and with Chinese and foreign turbine manufacturers competing furiously for this fast-expanding market, the cost per kilowatt is becoming increasingly competitive with China’s abundant coal. Many coastal provinces, meanwhile, are developing plans to build wind farms just offshore, where winds are strong and land use is not an issue. Projects like these are expected to deploy huge new turbines with 87-yard-long blades, each capable of generating 1.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power hundreds of homes, if not more.

“We have huge goals for wind power development,” Wang Zhongying, director of China’s Center for Renewable Energy Development. “By 2010, we plan to reach 4,000 megawatts, and by 2020 we expect to reach 20,000 megawatts, or 20 gigawatts.” If anything, Mr. Wang said, these targets are too conservative, and may be easily surpassed.
Ironically, it was a visit to a wind farm in the United States eighteen years ago that inspired the Chinese effort. I say, "ironically" because certainly the U.S. has beat a hasty retreat away from the development of renewable energy sources under the Bush Administration. China, motivated by pollution that is choking its cities and killing its people (one of the two leading causes of death in China today is lung cancer) has every reason to pursue its ambitious goal of 10% renewable energy sources by 2020. And the United States? Apparently the greed of our ruling politicians, who are in bed so deep with the petrochemical industry that they might as well replace the Statue of Liberty with a giant oil derrick, overrides any obligation to plan for the future, care for the environment, set a global example of technological achievement, or give a rat's ass about the lives of their own children and grandchildren.

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