Photo: solar panels china via flickr
In China’s rushes to increase energy production for the millions that flock to its cities, Baoding has emerged as the first carbon positive city in the world.Southwest of Beijing, Baoding began billing itself as a renewable energy centre in 2002 following the success of Yingli Green Energy Co. — a company founded in 1987 that expanded into a major producer of China’s solar panels.
In the past nine years more than 170 alternative energy companies have opened in Baoding using solar power, bio-diesel, and wind to run their operations.
Factories here make turbine blades for wind farms in Texas and photo-cells for Portugal’s solar array, the largest in the world.
To highlight its products the city has turned itself into a “living showcase of environmental technology.” The exteriors of office buildings and hotels are covered in solar panels, wind turbines sit atop all public buildings, and photo-cells power every streetlight.
Baoding’s mayor Yu Qun led the clean energy push and likes to say he began his crusade in response to some “smelly fish“.
The pollution from industry in the former maths professor’s city had mired its largest lake so badly that fish were dying by the thousands. In response, he closed several hundred factories and Baoding’s economy dropped precipitiously.
Taking a practical approach, Yu chose renewable energy to replace traditional power. “Polluting first and cleaning up later is very expensive,” he told the Christian Science Monitor in 2009.
It wasn’t easy. Senior officials rejected his original ideas claiming that efficient solar power was 30 to 40 years away. “People though I was impractical,” he said to CSM.
With perseverance, and the proper advantages to “green-tech” companies, Yu’s planned worked and today Baoding may still be the world’s only carbon positive city.
All part of a larger plan to decrease dependence on foreign fuels, China is leading the world in renewable energy investments and spent $54.4 billion last year on the technology, up 39 per cent from 2009.
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