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Clean Energies
Special> Clean Energies
UPDATED: July 20, 2009 NO. 29 JULY 23, 2009
Clean Energy—The Ultimate Solution
As a major consumer of coal, China is facing mounting pressure, and experts are wrangling about which clean energy should come first on the government agenda

Therefore, from now on, we can develop 200 million kw of nuclear power, 300 million kw of hydropower, and 300-400 million cubic meters of natural gas. The massive readjustment will overhaul our energy structure and make it cleaner and greener.

What is the cost of using clean energy?

In terms of cost, coal power is relatively cheap. We only have to spend 4,000 yuan ($586) to build 1-kw installed capacity of coal. But we need to spend 10,000 yuan ($1,460) for the same installed capacity of nuclear power and also wind power. Solar power investment is even higher, several times more than that of wind power, and solar power generates little electricity.

In spite of the bigger cost, we should develop both wind and solar power, because hydropower will soon be totally explored, natural gas reserves are very limited, and uranium resources will be used up one day.

What kind of support does the Chinese Government give to clean energy development?

The Chinese Government is sparing no effort in promoting clean energy.

The only reason the renewable energy industry is profitable right now is that power companies are negotiating with the government, asking for subsidies and requesting higher on-grid prices. For instance, wind power is unstable and uncontrollable with low quality. But the government policy is very attractive. First, wind power is allowed to be connected to the national power grid. Second, the government heavily subsidizes wind power developers. Third, the government will take as much electricity as they can generate. Those are extremely generous policies in promoting wind power.

The fast-growing Chinese economy needs energy. The government will give due support to developers to help them upgrade technology and reduce costs so as to meet the national demand.

It is a grand undertaking to develop clean energy, but we cannot do so blindly. A few months ago, the Ministry of Finance promoted a "solar power roof project" in which the government would subsidize 20,000 yuan ($2,928) for each kw of installed solar power capacity. What does that mean? It means the subsidy for 1 million kw of solar power would be enough to build two nuclear power plants. The ministry's decree immediately led to rampant solar power installation, which in turn forced the ministry to give up a nationwide subsidy and subsidize only a few trial bases.

China is now too hasty in developing renewable energy, and sometimes copies the proposals of foreign governments. But in other countries, if the government raises a proposal, nobody will follow it if the project isn't profitable. The situation is totally different in China. Once the power companies cannot make it, they will immediately turn to the government for subsidies. Some big companies would rather run at a loss to earn market share than calculate the real cost. This phenomenon is irrational and needs to be wiped out.

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