China Leads the New Clean Energy Reality
By Sunny Lewis
BEIJING, China, June 8, 2017 (Maximpact.com) – Now that President Donald Trump has announced that he will exit the Paris Agreement on climate, the world’s major emerging economies, including China and India, are replacing the United States at the center stage of the clean energy transition.
By betting on energy efficiency, wind, solar and other renewables, these countries are increasingly leading the way, while the United States falls behind as Trump moves the country towards greater reliance on coal and oil.
The International Energy Agency projects that all of the growth in energy demand in the next 25 years will take place in emerging and developing countries.
“There is a new reality in clean energy,” says Christian Zinglersen of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who heads the new Clean Energy Ministerial Secretariat. Based at the IEA headquarters in Paris, the Clean Energy Ministerial is a global forum that promotes clean energy policies.
This is the importance of the top-level meeting of energy ministers from the world’s biggest economies taking plan in Beijing this week, said Zinglersen, formerly deputy permanent secretary at the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate.
“The fact that representatives from fossil-fuel producers like Mexico and Saudi Arabia will join renewable-energy pioneers like Denmark and Germany for a top-level meeting in China is not a coincidence,” he said. “We are witnessing a global consensus that the key to the energy transition will reside with decisions made in emerging economies.”
China, the world’s biggest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, is changing its coal-burning ways. “China is now the undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion worldwide, and the IEA forecasts that by 2021, more than one-third of global cumulative solar PV and onshore wind capacity will be located in China,” said Zinglersen.
India was the first country to set comprehensive quality and performance standards for light emitting diodes (LEDs), and it expects to save as much as 277 terawatt-hours of electricity between 2015 and 2030, avoiding 254 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of 90 coal-fired power plants.
On June 6, during a side event on efficient lighting at the Clean Energy Ministerial, 13 companies announced new commitments to the Global Lighting Challenge totaling nearly six billion LED lighting products.
The Global Lighting Challenge has now reached 14 billion high-efficiency, high-quality lighting products committed, surpassing its 10 billion light goal set at the sixth Clean Energy Ministerial two years ago.
Twelve Chinese solid-state lighting companies committed to deploy 3.29 billion LED Lamps and 5.77 million LED streetlights by the end of 2018.
Based on these commitments, the total cumulative energy savings from 2017–2018 is estimated at more than 45 billion kWh, which is roughly half of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station’s annual power generation (93.5 billion kWh in 2016).
These energy savings lead to CO2 a emissions reduction estimated at more than 40.5 million tons.
LEDVANCE, an international company for lighting products and networked light applications based in Germany, announced its commitment to sell 2.5 billion LED lamps by 2023.
LEDVANCE’s goal will save the equivalent amount of energy produced by 75 medium-sized coal-fired power plants, the company estimates.
“We made a very conscious choice in pledging this commitment and are very proud in taking part in the Global Lighting Challenge,” said Thomas Dreier, global head of research and development at LEDVANCE.
“LED lamps are not only ecologically sensible but also economically. In combination with smart lighting solutions, LED lamps in the current generation have a potential of reducing energy consumption and costs by 90 percent,” Dreier said.
“At LEDVANCE, we have been investing a lot in researching the potential of tomorrow’s LED lamps, which will continue to increase the scope of what is possible in energy efficiency.”
The number of electric cars on the roads around the world rose to two million in 2016, following a year of strong growth in 2015, according to the latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook.
China remained the largest market in 2016, accounting for more than 40 percent of the electric cars sold in the world.
With more than 200 million electric two-wheelers and more than 300,000 electric buses, China is by far the global leader in the electrification of transport. China, the United States and Europe made up the three main markets, totaling over 90 percent of all electric vehicles sold around the world.
Four large U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, are leading a partnership of over 30 cities to mass-purchase EVs for their public fleets including police cruisers, street sweepers and trash haulers. The group of cities is currently seeking to purchase over 110,000 EVs, a significant number when compared to the 160,000 total EVs sold in the entire United States in 2016.
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry told his counterparts in Beijing, “I don’t believe you can have a real conversation about clean energy without including carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). The United States understands the importance of this clean technology and its vital role in the future of energy production.”
Perry made these comments at a meeting of the energy ministers of Canada, China, Norway, and the United States, as well as heads of delegation from Australia and the European Commission, business leaders and civil society organizations held ahead of the Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing.
Carbon capture, utilization and storage is a process that captures CO2 emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses it or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere.
The ministers were invited by the International Energy Agency and China to review how to increase collaboration to drive further deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).
The meeting was held ahead of the 8th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8), in Beijing.
“We have already seen the success of projects like Petra Nova in Texas, which is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon-capture system,” Perry said. “Our experience with CCUS proves that you can do the right thing for the environment and the economy too.”
The system at Petra Nova can capture 1.6 million tons of CO2 each year from an existing coal-fired power plant unit, a capture rate of up to 90 percent from a supplied slipstream of flue gas. By using CO2 captured from the plant, oil production at West Ranch oilfield is expected to increase from around 500 barrels per day to up to 15,000 barrels per day.
Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources said, “Carbon capture, use and storage holds enormous potential to enable economic growth and create jobs, while ensuring the environment is protected.”
“Canada hopes to continue working with domestic and international partners, including through the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, to help us all address the technical and policy challenges around wide scale implementation of this important technology,” Carr said.
“There are many reasons to stand for clean energy today,” said Zinglersen. “These can range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also battling the scourge of air pollution, improving energy security by reducing the dependency of fossil fuels, diversifying supply, creating high-tech jobs or fostering innovation. As such, approaches to clean energy will vary from country to country.”
By committing to these new clean technologies, he said, countries like China are helping drive down costs for the benefit of the world.
Featured Image: Dabancheng is said to be China’s the wind power capital. The Dabancheng Wind Farm is situated on the road from Urumqi to Turpan in northwestern China. (Photo courtesy Asian Development Bank) Creative commons license via Flickr