Enough of the Paris Riots, What about Energy Security and China?

Quick Posting Only…
The blogsophere, myself included, have been guilty on focusing too much attention on the Paris Riots. Meanwhile, China looks like its taking steps to protect itself from any looming energy crisis and threats…and such a potential crisis is far larger of a strategic threat than the riots in France.

China has made two recent announcements this week:
1. Earmarking 180 billion USD for Renewable Energy
2. Push Towards Building Sustainable Cities (first by 2010)

1. The 180 Billion USD Push for Renewable Energy

From China Daily “Renewable energy gets huge outlay“:

Up to 1.5 trillion yuan (US$184 billion) will be invested by 2020 to achieve China’s plan to boost renewable energy consumption to 15 per cent of the country’s energy mix by the benchmark year.

“We are committed to our promises,” said Zhang Guobao, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. “Our renewable energy law will take effect beginning next year, and we aim to increase our renewable consumption in the energy mix from the current 7 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020.”

WSJ’s “Beijing vows to increase use of clean energy” points to the practical reason for energy diversification – security and environmental issues (which is also security related):

China has increased its emphasis on the use of alternative power sources out of concern for both the environmental costs of the country’s heavy use of fossil fuels and the security risks of its growing reliance on imported oil. But oil and inexpensive, but dirty, coal still account for most of the energy consumption in China, the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases after the U.S.

Yet even on the issue of the environmental issues, environmental pollution has become an issue of domestic stability. Pollution from factories and power plants have prompted mass protests against the government. The Chinese Government has responded and is well aware of the danger of pollutions issues potentially igniting massive unrest. See my post “China – Environmentalism as a National Security Issue

There is obviously a good amount of spin in the story, but regardless China’s announcement demonstrates that China is looking to confront energy security issues with greater resolve than the US has done with its latest energy bill.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has been rightfully criticized for heavily subsidizes businesses in developing existing energy types (oil and nuclear) and makes exceptions on environmental regulation for various energy-related construction. China seems to be really pushing the development of new and more efficient, clean and renewable energy resources in a bid to avoid dependence on oil (and the global oil prices that dictate oil-based energy cost).

The Energy Bill does state, however, that 10% of energy from utility companies must be from renewable sources by 2020; China appears to be 15% by 2020, but China doesn’t give much detail on what that exactly means.

In addition, the Senate just passed a bill allowing the drilling of Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). While I think the US Government should always reserve the right to exploit readily available energy resources when needed, government attention would be better served to pushing for hybrid vehicles or at least more gas-efficient vehicles.

2. Push Towards Sustainable Cities
A British consulting firm, Arup, has won a contract to build sustainable cities in China – with the goals of sustainable energy and water use and zero emissions for its transportation system. See the article here at the Guardian’s “British to help China build ‘eco-cities’” for more information:

British engineers will this week sign a multi-billion contract with the Chinese authorities to design and build a string of ‘eco-cities’ – self-sustaining urban centres the size of a large western capital – in the booming country.

Arup, the London-based consulting firm that has already signed up for one such project near Shanghai, will announce it has clinched a deal to extend the concept into a string of cities around China.

The Dongtan development, on an island in the mouth of the Yangtze river near Shanghai, aims to build a city three-quarters the size of Manhattan by 2040. The first phase will accommodate some 50,000 people. It is on target to be open by the time of the Shanghai Expo trade fair in 2010

The eco-cities are intended to be self-sufficient in energy, water and most food products, with the aim of zero emissions of greenhouse gases in transport systems.

Some hints of the technologies involved are mentioned at Arup’s Press Release, “Arup unveils plans for world’s first sustainable city in Dongtan, China“:

The first phase of Dongtan is planned to be completed by 2010 when the Expo will be held in Shanghai. This phase will include a wide range of developments with urban parks, ecological parks and world class leisure facilities. Priority projects include the process of capturing and purifying water in the landscape to support life in the city. Community waste management recycling will generate clean energy from organic waste, reducing landfills that damage the environment. Combined heat and power systems will provide the technology to source clean and reliable energy. Dongtan will be a model ecological city, and its buildings will help to reduce energy use, making efficient use of energy sources and generating energy from renewable sources.

Again, surely a good amount of spin is involved, but I am not hearing anything remotely similar to this in the United States with such a high level of government involvement. Would the US Government at least try to make suburban sprawl areas more self-sufficient and sustainable?

I have no time to go to any deep analysis at the moment, but sufficient to say that the United States would be foolish in not taking concrete steps in addressing its energy security issues and taking a look at what China is doing.

Energy security can potentially be a more existential threat than terrorism, but its not being fully addressed by the US. In this regards, China is strengthening itself as compared to the US – at least in its stated goals.

More thoroughly analysis later…




One response to “Enough of the Paris Riots, What about Energy Security and China?”

  1. Rich Walden

    Yes, the devil is in the details. Clean energy and renewable energy are two different things. It will be interesting to see the proposed methods.

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