China could transform global market in renewables

China could well become a world leader in renewable energy and transform global markets, after the Chinese top legislature passed the first renewable energy promotion law to help the country meet ambitious targets for the uptake of renewable energy.

The Renewable Energy Promotion Law guarantees grid access for renewable energy producers as well as spreading the costs of new technologies across the sector. It will take effect on January 1st 2006.

“China could and should be a world leader in renewable energy development. This law has long been anticipated by the global renewable energy industry. If the definition of renewables and the details are right then the international community will get behind China and support its ambition to become an international clean energy powerhouse,” said Steve Sawyer from Greenpeace International.

The enactment of the law has provided a positive signal to many in the conservation community. China is currently the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide and has no binding obligation under the Kyoto Protocol. International attention has been focused on China’s efforts to curb CO2 emissions growth since the Kyoto Protocol came into effect last month.

Last week, it was revealed that China is now overtaking the US as the world’s largest consumer of many raw materials (see related story).

There is enormous commercial interest in China’s potential as a huge market for wind power and other renewable energy technologies. Last year, the market for wind energy in China grew by 35% even without the new law. China also has huge potential for solar, wave, tidal and biomass power and, clean-energy campaigners believe, with energy efficiency could meet all its needs from renewable energy alone.

By David Hopkins

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