By contrast with the US domestic hostage crisis where our Republican kidnappers barely permit our government to keep the lights on each week, the Chinese government issues updated renewable energy plans every five years, and these plans go into detail, for four decades; up to 2050, and setting the target for 2020, 2030 and so on.
Not only has China been making the long-range plans normally considered one of the benefits of a democratically elected government in an industrialized nation, but while we have dithered, China is now scaling up those ambitions exponentially. China added so much wind so fast that last year it became the world leader.
Now it plans 200 GW by 2020, and 1,000 GW by 2050. To get an idea of the vast scale-up of this level of ambition, look at what China was timidly planning in 2007, based on little experience with wind, in its previous five-year plan.
“Given current policies” China said, back in 2007, “China’s installed capacity of wind energy could reach 50 GW by 2020, accounting for about 4% of the total installed generation capacity.”
As of December, 2010, China then had installed 25 GW of wind – and planned to raise its sights from 50 to 150 GW by 2020.
A year later in December 2011, with 42 GW of wind installed, China had become the world leader in wind power, overtaking the US, which had overtaken Germany several years previously.
Now The National Energy Administration of China has just released new plans to revise upward once more its 2020 target, first set at 50 GW, to 200 GW, 400 GW by 2030 and 1,000 GW (1,000,000 MW) by 2050.
Given that most American voters would like to see us invest in renewable energy responsibly and rapidly to stave off the worst disaster of catastrophic climate change that every other nation can see barreling down on us, and that it is we who are in a democracy, not China, what keeps us from being able to have sensible government like this?
China is not any smarter than us. Their rapid scale-up of renewables has not been smooth and easy. Just like here, some Chinese renewable companies are going bankrupt, as others become the winners in a rapidly evolving innovative new energy economy. Transmission difficulties are making it hard to get so much power on the grid so fast.
But for China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that oversees renewable policy, that doesn’t mean giving up. “Given the situation, it is urgent for us to work out and implement classified and inter-provincial programs for timely ingesting of wind power,” said Wang Zhongying, research fellow at the NDRC’s Center for Renewable Energy Development at the Energy Research Institute.
America certainly dealt with the scale-up needed to go to war after Pearl Harbor. We are threatened with much, much worse than Pearl Harbor, from destabilizing our climate, as any scientist will tell you (and for thousands of years). Really. What is it going to take?
Frankly, it is going to take voters. Only 37% of eligible voters voted in the last midterms. You could call your two Senators, and your Representative and let them know your wishes, for starters. Congress has a switchboard (202) 224-3121. And then vote – not just in presidential elections – but every two years.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.