DUNHUANG, China — As the United States takes its first steps toward mandating that power companies generate more electricity from renewable sources, China already has a similar requirement and is investing billions to remake itself into a green energy superpower.
Through a combination of carrots and sticks, Beijing is starting to change how this country generates energy. Although coal remains the biggest energy source and is almost certain to stay that way, the rise of renewable energy, especially wind power, is helping to slow China’s steep growth in emissions of global warming gases.
While the House of Representatives approved a requirement last week that American utilities generate more of their power from renewable sources of energy, and the Senate will consider similar proposals over the summer, China imposed such a requirement almost two years ago.
This year China is on track to pass the United States as the world’s largest market for wind turbines — after doubling wind power capacity in each of the last four years. State-owned power companies are competing to see which can build solar plants fastest, though these projects are much smaller than the wind projects. And other green energy projects, like burning farm waste to generate electricity, are sprouting up.
But this quote is a classic:
Some top Chinese regulators even worry that Beijing’s mandates are pushing companies too far too fast. The companies may be deliberately underbidding for the right to build new projects and then planning to go back to the government later and demand compensation once the projects lose money.
“The problem is we have so many stupid enterprises,” said Li Junfeng, who is the deputy director general for energy research at China’s top economic planning agency and the secretary general of the government-run Renewable Energy Industries Association.
We need Li Junfeng in America.