Monday, June 2, 2008

Let's not take a back seat to China

Not long ago, the current U.S. administration used China's lack of movement on curbing carbon emissions as an excuse of the U.S. to do nothing as well.

Well watch out. The World Watch Institute reports, that since the Chinese government enacted a national renewable energy law in 2005, the development of wind energy in China has exploded.

By 2007, overall wind installations in China exceeded 5 gigawatts (GW) -- a goal initially set for 2010 by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner. The Commission's target for 2020 was 30 GW, a level that is now projected to be reached by 2012, eight years ahead of schedule.

China has developed its own domestic wind turbine manufacturing industry, which is rapidly expanding its capacity, and its technological capabilities. Wind power is already showing itself to be more cost effective than oil, natural gas, and nuclear power generation in China. Many analysts believe that wind power will be able to compete with coal generation in China by as early as 2015.

If China can do it, certainly the U. S. can!

9 comments:

the teach said...

I agree Sue! We have to start doing something about alternative fuels! :)

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

It seems we are taking a backseat only to Germany but that is changing.

Sue said...

Chris, Yes, the U.S. total capacity exceeds China (not surprising since we are technologically more advanced, and until recently a bigger user of energy). However, the point (made in the article that YOU linked to), is that while "Overall US wind power generating capacity grew 45% in 2007" compared to 2006, by comparison China's "wind energy capacity in added during this year [2007], representing market growth of 156% over 2006. At that rate of growth, it won't be long before China passes us by. I wasn't commenting on the absolute levels of wind power development, but on the committment to CHANGE. Which China seems to have in spades.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Sue: Percentages are not a valid unit of comparison. If I sell 1 unit this month and double my sales next month I would sell 2. If my sales this month are 1000 I could increase by 1% and have an increase of 10 next month. When you start from a lower point, large percentages don't necessarily mean large growth. It is unlikely that China will maintain the high percentage that you state. It is addition of total windpower that counts. I do applaud China's use of windpower. But we are ahead and installing it about as fast as generators are available. T. Boone Pickens just placed an order for $2 Billion worth of generators to be installed in my area. It will be the largest wind-generation field in the world. It is amazing how capitalism can fuel growth.

Sue said...

Any basic statistics text will tell you that percentages are the ONLY legitimate way to make comparisons between entities that differ greatly in size.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Sue: I guess the 26 hours of statistics that I took were irrelevant. We must have used a different book.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Sue: If you were comparing wind-generated electricity as a percentage of overall electrical generation, you statement about percentage being the only valid comparison would be correct. For example: Wind accounted for approximately 7% of total U.S. electrical generation. What % of China's electrical generation came from wind?

If you look at the percentage change from previous year, the only comparison is to itself. That is, if last year they grew at 30% and this year at 156%, they are progressing. You are looking at periods on a growth curve. It is likely that the growth curve for the U.S. and for China are similar. It is then a question of which section of that growth curve you are examining.

The next question then is "what is the growth rate of the entire energy production of the country?" Is coal-fired generation growing at a slower, or greater rate than wind-generated electricity? That's where the proof will be.

Sue said...

Chris -- China's coal fired generation DECLINED by 9 percent.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Sue: It might be useful to look at why China's coal-fired generation declined. One reason is that they closed a number of plants this past winter due to shortages of coal. Part of the shortage was localized due to infrastructure issues. This is particularly interesting due to the fact that China has historically been a net exporter of coal. That changed in the second half of last year when it became a net importer. Reliable information out of China is sketchy at best due to the closed nature of their government and state control of media. However, there are sources that indicate that China adds on the average 2 new coal-fired generation plants every month. They are desperate for energy.