Over the last 15 years, nuclear and wind have had a similar output (2.6 billion kWh for nuclear versus 1.9 billion kWh for wind), but nuclear subsidies outweighed those for wind by a factor of over 40 ($39.4 billion versus $900 million).
For the first time, in 2010, the amount of renewable energy capacity around the world exceeded that of nuclear. While there’s 375 GW of nuclear installed worldwide (prior to the Japanese meltdown), there’s 381 GW of renewables: 193 GW of wind, 65 GW of biomass and waste-to-energy plants, and 43 GW of solar.
China’s latest 12th five year plan, has significant environmental targets.
The plan includes binding targets on resource and environmental protection.
Energy – A 16% cut in energy intensity (energy consumed per unit of GDP), 17% cut in carbon intensity (carbon emitted per unit of GDP) and a boost in non-fossil fuel energy sources to 11.4% of primary energy consumption (it is currently 8.3%).
Pollution – There is an 8% reduction target for sulphur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand and a 10% reduction target for ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxides, the latter of which come mainly from China’s dominant coal sector. There will also be a focus on cutting heavy-metal pollution from industry.
Water – Water intensity (water consumed per unit of value-added industrial output) is set to be cut by 30% by 2015.
Forestry – China also aims to boost forests by 600 million cubic metres and forest cover to 21.66%.
Climate – Both carbon taxes and carbon trading have been widely discussed and may be introduced in the next five years, though there is no detailed information on this in the 12th FYP.
Investment in environmental protection is expected to exceed 3 trillion yuan over the five-year period. Much of this will go on pollution control, helping achieve targets to significantly cut the release of major pollutants.
As part of its strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, China is aiming to build 40 additional gigawatts of nuclear energy capacity by 2015 (though the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan prompted the government to suspend approvals for new power stations while it reviewed safety measures). It also plans to significantly boost investment in hydropower and add 70 gigawatts of new wind farms and 5 gigawatts of new solar farms.
The plan mandates significant investment in public transportation in order to achieve goals including the construction of 35,000 km of high- speed rail and connecting every city with more than 500,000 residents.
©chinadialogue’s Olivia Boyd and Tan Copsey