In recent years Chinese companies, especially large-scale state-owned enterprises, have been making great efforts in emission reduction and energy saving. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, large-scale state-owned enterprises invested RMB 87.84 billion for energy saving in 2009; compared to 2005, they reduced their comprehensive energy consumption per 10,000 yuan output value by 15.1 percent (at comparable prices), sulfur dioxide emission by 36.8 percent, and chemical oxygen demand by 33.04 percent. The figures mean that these companies have achieved the target set in China's Eleventh-five-year Plan to cut emissions by 10 percent.
As of July 14, 2010, with the implementation of a new government policy, high-energy-consuming companies in 22 provinces and cities no longer enjoy preferential prices for their electricity. The policy is designed to pressure such companies to save energy, reduce emission and protect the environment.
Green Coal-based Power Generation
At the end of 2008, electricity generated from coal accounted for a massive 75 percent of China's installed power generation capacity. The proportion is forecast to remain at 60 percent or more in 2020. The fact is that coal-fired power stations will remain China's primary source of carbon emissions for some time to come, so the development of clean technology is the route the coal-fired power industry must travel.
The technology of "green coal-based power" is based on integrated gasification combined cycles (IGCC) and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Besides generating power, it can also reclaim pollutants and sequestrate carbon dioxide for usage or storage.
Research on IGCC started in China in the late 1970s. During the Eighth Five-year Plan (1991-1995), a research team headed by the Xi'an Institute of Heat Engineering completed a feasibility study of the technology. A trial IGC power station was set up in Yantai of Shandong Province in 1999, which was listed as a key project of Agenda 21, a government white paper on China's population, environment and development in the 21st century.
In 2004, China Huaneng Group proposed the Green Coal-based Power Generation Plan. The company, with an installed capacity of over 100 million kW that represents 12 percent of China's installed capacity, planned to build a Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) trial power station within 15 years. A year later, The GreenGen Company was established, co-founded by Huaneng and other energy giants including China Datang Corporation, China Huadian Corporation, China Guodian Corporation, China Power Investment Corporation, and Shenhua Group Corporation Ltd. In 2008 Beijing Thermal Power Plant set up a carbon dioxide capture system with a capacity of 120,000 tons a year. In 2009 the world's largest carbon dioxide capture system was built in a Huaneng power plant in Shanghai, with a capacity of 3,000 tons a year. In July 2009 the first IGCC trial project, a completely homegrown project developed, designed and constructed independently by China, began construction in Tianjin. It is expected to be operational in 2011.
Su Wenbin, general manager of The GreenGen Co., Ltd, explains that the target of the Green Coal-based Power Generation Plan is to research, develop and promote a fully patented coal-based energy generation system, with huge efficiency improvements that can increase efficiency, whilst producing nearly zero pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. He adds that it will be economically viable and as it becomes adopted into use it will help achieve the sustainable development of coal-fired power by providing a low-carbon resource.
China Electricity Council's 2009 statistical bulletin on electricity enterprises showed many companies investing in the clean-energy industry, a clear improvement in the investment structure of China's electrical resource. Clean energy accounted for 32.2 percent of added installed capacity in 2009; hydraulic, nuclear and wind power all saw a large increase in investment, their completed investments in capital construction growing by 2.33 percent, 74.91 percent and 43.9 percent respectively over 2008, whereas completed investment in capital construction of coal-fired generators fell by 11.11 percent. Clean-energy stocks were a hot stock-market item.
In 2009, China had the largest hydroelectric capacity in the world, 197 million kW. China produced photovoltaic cells totaling four million kW a year, making up 40 percent of the world's total. Solar water heating panels exceeded 145 million square meters, representing 60 percent of the world's total. China's use of energy from renewable resources is about 225 Mtce (megaton coal equivalent), representing 7.3 percent of the world's total energy consumption.
Enthusiasm for building large-scale wind farms is still strong. In July 2010, 34 windmills went into operation at Shanghai East Sea Bridge Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm of such magnitude in Asia. All started supplying to the power grid on August 31, conveying green electricity to the mainland via submarine cable. The farm will generate 267 million kWh a year, which means saving 100,000 tons of coal and reducing carbon emission by 200,000 tons. As well as supplying power for the Shanghai Expo, it will meet the demand of 200,000 households in Shanghai.
The wind farm has an installed capacity of 102,000 kW, and is fully patent protected. Phase II has obtained government approval, and will be even larger and more advanced. In addition, Shanghai is planning and actively preparing to construct a further four offshore wind farms in Fengxian and Pudong, which will raise wind power capacity in Shanghai to 1.1 million kW.
According to the China Electricity Council bulletin, China's installed capacity of wind power in 2009 reached 16.13 million kW, a 92.5 percent increase over the previous year, registering the world's highest growth in wind farms. Wind power output reached 27 billion kWh, a rise of 106 percent. Wind-power installed capacity is expected to reach 30 million kW in 2010.
Developing Green Technologies
Over the last ten years Chinese enterprises have hiked investment into energy-saving technology R&D. With many patents now amassed, they can offer an array of energy-saving products.
China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) is one of China's largest companies in the field. In recent years its outputs of crude oil and processed product have climbed steadily, but its energy and materials consumption has dropped by a large margin. In 2009 it had 40 energy-saving inventions, 42.5 percent more than in 2007. Between 2005 and 2009, its total carbon dioxide emissions fell by 33.15 million tons, equivalent to the total annual emission of four million cars. The company has invested over RMB 14.5 billion into energy-saving projects, reducing its overall energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of output value to 0.77 ton of coal equivalent, a saving of 14 Mtce.
Shandong Linuo Paradigma Solar Energy, one of Asia's largest solar companies, is engaged in solar heating and photovoltaic projects. It champions the concept of integrating solar energy into buildings. As masters of the core technology, the company can boost the fast development of this sector in China. At the end of July this year, it completed the Low Consumption Pavilion in Jinan, capital of Shandong. The 174-square-meter pavilion is separated into café, small conference rooms, and other function rooms. The external walls are insulated with 5-cm-thick polystyrene board, the windows are double-glazed, and the ceiling is dotted with all kinds of LED lights. All circulating systems, from the basic thermal system, to heating, cooling and generating systems, are solar-powered. In addition, solar energy can provide 6.08 kWh of electricity to meet living requirements.
BYD is engaged in high-tech research and development, production and marketing, and is also a showcase of Chinese auto-making. Ever since it started making cars in 2003, the development of new-energy vehicles has been a priority corporate aim. The BYD F3DM low-carbon edition released last March is the first dual-mode electric vehicle not to rely on professional charging stations. It has lower oil consumption and emissions whilst upping engine power and handling performance. The BYD e6 is designed especially for taxi use, using only 21.5 kWh per 100 km. Furthermore, the stable and strong electric output makes possible acceleration from 0-100 kmph in 10 seconds. The installed 3c charger drastically reduces charging time, so it takes only 15 minutes to reach 80 percent battery strength, which is enough for 300 km. The car's chemical parts are completely recyclable, posing no harm to the environment. BYD and Daimler-Benz reached an agreement last May to set up a joint venture to develop electric cars in China, and BYD will provide the core power battery technology.
Chinese companies are becoming more aware of corporate social responsibility, and more and more entrepreneurs are active in promoting low-carbon living. During the Copenhagen Conference of 2009 they published a declaration promising to echo the Chinese government's environmental protection commitment, to find environment-friendly and low-carbon approaches to growth, and to espouse social responsibility.
Vanke, one of China's largest real estate developers, has been focusing on applying energy-saving technologies in construction, like promoting housing industrialization, interior decoration and developing green construction technologies.
Compared with traditional homes, industrialized ones can reduce energy consumption by 20 percent per square meter, and reduce water consumption by 63 percent, timber formwork by 87 percent and construction waste by 91 percent. As early as 2003 Vanke initiated a project to promote standardized residences. It built many multi-story apartments and single houses. In 2008 about 74,000 square meters of industrialized residences were completed, with a further 600,000 square meters under construction. In 2010 a million square meters of industrialized residences will be built.
On March 27, 2010, Vanke's offices in over 30 Chinese cities and 200 communities it developed took part in the 2010 Earth Hour. Wang Shi, Vanke's Chairman and a philanthropist, was the promotion ambassador for the Earth Hour event. The Vanke Foundation joined hands with the Shanghai World Expo Bureau and Tencent Charity Fund to initiate "Zero Mile Action," the first activity in China to promote waste classification and reduction.
Mengniu Dairy Co., Ltd., one of China's largest dairy companies, launched the new green industrial chain standard and declared they would use new packaging materials approved by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Mengniu also has a project in 100 communities in Shanghai that encourages people to recycle dairy packaging and shows them easy and efficient ways of doing so.
The Chinese media and publishing industry are also actively involved in emission reduction. In 2008, a Chinese press published a book printed on 100-percent-recycled paper. The first run was 50,000 copies, which meant a saving of 313 trees, 1,840 cubic meters of water, 11,000 kWh of electricity and 5,500 kg of chemical materials. The 2009 Beijing Book Fair saw dozens of publishers using more recycled paper -- about 30 percent of their books are printed on "green" stock. Beijing Hongwenguan Press and Xianzhi Xianxing Press even promised that in three years' time they would be printing on recycled paper exclusively.