Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yin and yang of clean energy

Ma Xuelu, chief strategy officer for solar panel manufacturers Yingli, sketches a vision of the future of solar power.
We want solar to be the green energy that the common man can use. It’s not like oil, solar is a harmonious resource, a peaceful resource.

In these words, I hear echoes of the ancient teachings of Taoism which promotes harmony or union with nature, virtue and self-development.

China has a long cultural history where patience is a core value, so I am interested to see that their forward planning gives prominence to clean energy. China plans to spend $27 bn in 2012 to promote energy conservation, emission reductions and renewable energy.  Their goal is to reduce emissions by 40-45% by 2020, compared with 2003 levels, and boost use of renewable energy to 15% of overall energy consumption.

Its deep history gives China a long term perspective. In contrast, many Western democracies have relatively new national identities and seem driven to make their mark quickly. Western cultures are impatient for results. When we encounter obstacles we sometimes want to crash through, or change course.

Li Junfeng, a senior policy official, brings a different perspective in this comment about difficulties encountered by fledgling solar and wind industries.
Our industries are still very young. A child will stumble as he walks, because he’s still young. But eventually he will grow up.

This reminds me that solar power has been described as the teddy bear of renewables because it is small and lovable. What will it be when it grows up? A 360kg grizzly?

This graphic from the Financial Times shows how China's fledgling wind industry compares with that of the USA (click to enlarge).


News from the Transformation tab.

World solar energy usage almost doubled in one year. In 2010 the world used 30 terawat-hours and in 2011 this had risen to 55.7 terawatt-hours.  Source: e360.

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