Beijing to invest heavily in renewables

China’s capital of 13 million inhabitants is to invest increasingly in geothermal power, solar energy, bio-energy and wind power to reduce dependence on fossil fuels., the leading website on investment projects in China, quoted an analysis of current resource reserves by the State Development Planning Commission, which says that China’s coal, oil, gas and hydropower reserve will be running out within one century, but that the nation’s second largest city is a potential renewables haven. The Commission also says that the exploration of new energy resources will also benefit Beijing’s goal to win the bid for 2008 Olympic Games, as the city currently suffers from terrible air pollution problems.

The potential new sources identified will help provide a new energy supply equivalent to 6.48 million tons of coal and a drop in the discharge of pollutants of 640, 000 tonnes, the Commission says. The total amount of investment needed is quoted as about 800 million yuan ($97 million).

According to the analysis, Beijing has 150 geothermal wells, capable of producing 8.8 million cubic meters of hot water annually, of which about 400,000 cubic meters of the resource can be used for heating. If Beijing accelerates the exploration of its geothermal resource, the new power will solve heating problem for about 20-30 million square metres, equivalent to the consumption of 3 million tons of coal, the Commission says.

The city also claims an abundant solar energy resource with about 2,600 hours of sunshine per year. The analysis says that Beijing is capable of becoming the world’s largest solar energy consumption city.

The city’s agriculture sector produces 5.2 million tons of crop stems annually, 4.2 million tons of which is reportedly capable of being generated into energy. At present, only 1.6 million tons of the total resources are used. Another major bio-energy choice is the city’s rubbish, which amounts to 4.7 million tons per year. The Commission wants to use half this amount in electricity production, saving about 340,000 tons of coal annually.

Yanqing County in the northwestern suburbs of Beijing is a good potential source of wind power, the analysis says. By installing 100,000-kw electricity generating units, the annual electricity generating capacity would reach 175 million kwh.

China is also planning its second largest hydropower plant, situated along the Lancang River in the southwestern province of Yunnan. The plant’s capacity is designed to reach 5.5 million kilowatts, with an annual power generation output of 23.6 billion kilowatts. It is projected to operate from 2014, with construction starting in 2005, and total investment of 20 to 30 billion yuan ($2.4- $3.6 billion). According to the local government’s prediction, the plant will meet the energy requirements of the 40 million inhabitants of Yunnan and other more easterly provinces.

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