Photo: Flickr: madiko83
This is a recipe for disaster.In China there are more cars, more trains, more anything that consumes fuel, than ever before. Now the entire country is starting to feel it. As many as 10 of China’s major economic sectors could see energy rationing between now and September, reports The Asia Sentinel.
“This time, the emergency will last longer, with widespread ramifications across industry sectors,” according to a report by Energy Shortage, a website dedicated to keeping tabs on the global energy situation…Chinese state-owned media have reported that as many as 24,000 industrial businesses in the Shanghai area have been told that they face mandatory power cuts. In Zhejiang province, some factories have switched to diesel powered generators, despite the fact that diesel power costs are double those of the commercial grid, adding to production costs and to pollution.
China’s last energy crises, in 2004, resulted in wide-spread layoffs, as companies tried to account for the rising cost of fuel. Naturally, Chinese officials are afraid that a new round of layoffs could lead to riots and unrest. Not that that means they will intervene in the market, the National Development and Reform Commission has said plainly that they have no intention of cutting fuel prices.
70% of China’s energy needs are met by coal, the country uses over 46% of the world’s supply. That dependence has factored heavily into China’s inflation problems. In the last five years, coal prices have doubled, and could jump by over 7% before the year is out.
So China obviously needs to diversify its energy use, but its been slow-going. 20% of the country’s energy is supplied by hydro power, only about 2% of the country’s power is supplied by nuclear reactors, and as for China being some kind of renewable energy giant. Not so.
China has become the leader in the manufacture of solar panels and by 2007 was producing 1.7 gigawatts of them for sale, but, according to the PSA report, fewer than 100 megawatts, or less than 0.01 per cent of China’s power, was being supplied by solar. The country is also the world’s biggest wind power user, surpassing the United States in 2010, with capacity now 40.18 megawatts – providing less than 1 per cent of the country’s energy.