Wind power alone can potentially allow China to reduce emissions by 30 percent in about twenty years, according to a prominent science magazine today.
In Science magazine's cover story, issued today, a team of environmental scientists from Harvard and Tsinghua universities analyzed China's wind resources and concluded that if the nation meets 30 percent of its increase in electricity demand with wind power by 2030, it will be enough for the nation to realize a low-carbon future.
China has become second only to the US in its national power generating capacity. It produces 792.5 gigawatts per year with an expected 10 percent annual increase in the future. Close to 80 percent of its power is produced through coal-making, making China and the US as the world's two largest carbon emitters.
To meet the increased demand for electricity during the next 20 years with fossil fuel-based energy sources, China would have to construct coal-fired power plants that could produce the equivalent of 800 gigawatts of electricity, resulting in a potential increase of 3.5 gigatons of CO2 per year.
"By publicizing the opportunity for a different way to go we will hope to have a positive influence," said lead author Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler professor of environmental studies at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The authors said the report was fueled by the Chinese government's support for a low-carbon future after it passed the Renewable Energy Law in 2005.
The law, which provides favorable tax status for alternative energy investments, has boosted the development of renewable energy, especially wind.
While wind-generated energy accounts for only 0.4 percent of China's total current electricity supply, the nation is rapidly becoming the world's fastest growing market for wind power, trailing only the US, Germany and Spain in the capacity of existing wind farms.