November 22, 2012

Comparing China's energy plans with Australia's

Sources of China's electrical energy.

According to the chart above ( from ) China's reliance on renewable wind and solar power will be only minuscule in comparison with China's overwhelming reliance on coal and oil powered power stations (at present and out to 2030). For wind and solar see the tiny "Other Renewables" line - so minute its only visible in 2030. This to a degree undercuts the arguments of the article below. Another issue is the article's attempt to compare overall solar and wind power use of vastly different population sizes - that is 23 million Australians compared to 1.3 to 1.4 Billion Chinese.

This article of 22 November 2012 from The Conversation is highly critical of Australia's Energy White Paper in comparison with China's energy plans.

“A tale of two energy visions: China and Australia”
by John Mathews, Professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie Graduate School of Management
"...[in the Australian White Paper] In place of outlining the steps needed to transform [Australia's] energy structure from one depending on digging up and burning fossil fuels to one that employs sophisticated technologies — so that solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy could play an important and growing role — we find instead mere gestures towards the issues. There are no quantitative goals apart from the already announced Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 (itself under constant attack).

There is nothing new in the White Paper concerning building a solar industry, a wind industry, a “smart and strong grid” or even an industry for building the vehicle charging infrastructure needed for electric vehicles. There is no discussion of export prospects for Australian producers of renewable energy technologies and equipment — even though the Australian Trade Minister was instrumental in gaining acceptance for lower tariffs for such exports within APEC at the last leaders' summit in Vladivostok. In other words — no ‘whole of government’ thinking.

The contrast with China’s Energy White Paper could not be starker. China clearly views its energy security as the most fundamental feature of its future prosperity. It is building renewable energy industries as fast as is economically and technologically possible, as its major ‘nation building’ 21st century project. All government departments are focused on achieving the energy goals.
The energy targets announced in the White Paper speak for themselves:
  • 100 GW for wind (more than doubling the current capacity).
  • 21 GW for solar PV (a seven-fold increase).
  • massive expenditure on the electric power grid to make it the backbone of China’s 21st century industrial economy.
The State Grid Corporation of China, for example, has announced a roll-out of its “strong and smart grid”. It is investing 4 trillion yuan up to 2020 (around US$600 billion), involving state-of-the-art high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines bringing power from the west, where it will be generated by huge wind and solar farms, to the east, as well as digital switching stations. Among other goals there will be diffusion of over 300 million smart meters, made and designed in China to Chinese standards. This is how to build an industry..." Whole Articlefrom this source

A article indicates China's solar energy sector would not function without massive government support and that 25% of Chinese wind farms are not hooked up to the grid (and are therefore useless).

In Australia the majority of electricity users - who can't afford solar - are paying for the preferences of the minority of richer Australians who can afford solar :) There's going to be a voter reaction against the input tariff system (poor paying rich energy habits) sooner or later.


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