Nsomewhere the paradox of Chinese energy policy is as spectacular as in Guangdong, a southern province with a population as large as that of Japan and a higher economic output than Italy. In January 2020, the automobile and battery manufacturer BYD presented the Han here at its headquarters in the technology metropolis of Shenzhen: externally on a Tesla Model S As a reminder, the model with the most powerful electric motor accelerates to 100 kilometers per hour in 3.9 seconds, but at the equivalent of 45,000 euros it costs only a third of the American model. In October, BYD sold nearly 32,000 Han, an increase of 185 percent year-on-year. In all likelihood, the company will sell almost a million pure electric cars over the course of the year.
If the ubiquitous lockdowns do not spoil the buying mood of the Chinese, in China by the end of the year, sales of pure e-cars, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles will rise to 6 million – twice as much as in 2021. For years, China’s government has supported e-cars with high subsidies. Not for the sake of climate protection, but because she believed that saying goodbye to the combustion engine would give domestic manufacturers a chance.
Another location in shows that the prospect of monetary gain can certainly slow down global warming Guangdong, located on the coast four hours’ drive northeast. In Changzhou, so they say in China, the best merchants in the country are traditionally at home. The inhabitants of the pretty town, whose sky is bathed in bright colors by a spectacular laser show every evening at nine, know how to turn everything into a good deal.
Energy for all of Norway
In the next five years, a wind farm is to be built 90 kilometers off the coast of Changzhou in the sea, which will supply enough energy to easily supply a country like Norway. Because the situation in the Taiwan Strait is so favorable, the turbines are supposed to run almost half the time and thus produce 43.3 gigawatts of electricity. In the neighboring province of Fujian, construction of a wind farm in the sea off the city of Zhangzhou began last summer. If the money flows as plentifully as before, the capacity could even be 50 gigawatts in the end.
In no other country on earth is the expansion of renewable energies progressing as quickly as in China. Nevertheless, the country on which applies climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh as the greatest risk for the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 percent by the turn of the century compared to the pre-industrial age. Because China is also setting a new world record this year in the expansion of a completely different energy source: coal.
“Key role” in the fight against climate change
That China has a “key role” in the fight against climate change, like the World Bank writes in a report presented shortly before the climate conference, has a lot to do with the country’s dependence on coal. In carefully considered words, which probably took a long time to negotiate behind the scenes between the member states, the multilateral organization also scolds the industrialized countries for their “disproportionately high” share of the emissions emitted over the past century. Nevertheless, the judgment of the World Bank is clear: “Without effective efforts to mitigate China”, the country that produces 27 percent of all greenhouse gases, it will be “impossible to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement”.
The fact that China emits more emissions than the USA, Europe and Japan combined is mainly due to the fact that burning coal still accounts for well over 50 percent of China’s energy production. And although China’s President Xi Jinping promised two years ago to the United Nations that his country would peak emissions before 2030 and no more net CO by 2060 at the latest2 should emit, a farewell to the fossil fuel is a long way off.
100 gigawatts of coal-fired power in planning
China is building or planning new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of at least 100 gigawatts, according to the information service “S&P Global Commodity Insights”. According to the non-governmental organization “Global Energy Monitor”, the number could even increase to 290 gigawatts if all of the approximately 260 coal-fired power plants are completed in the country for which application processes are running, which have already been approved or are already under construction.
According to research by the Chinese business magazine “Caixin”, the government gave the go-ahead for the construction of six coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 9.7 million kilowatts in less than a month in the Guangdong province alone, off whose coast the gigantic wind farms are to be built , roughly the capacity installed between 2016 and 2020. Given the promise of China’s climate protection pledge, such a project was recently considered “impossible,” the magazine quoted an insider as saying. But the tide has turned in Beijing.
In his speech at the party congress, which only takes place every five years, in mid-October, Xi Jinping announced that he intends to further expand renewable energies. But the key theme of “security” that permeated Xi’s speech also applies to energy, he says. “We will use coal cleaner and more efficiently,” said the leader, who has once again expanded his already enormous power.