The article “The Energy and CO2 Emissions Impact of Renewable Energy Development” in China discusses how the country of China has adopted renewable energy targets that require a great deal of expansion between the years of 2010 and 2020. One of the goals of the renewable energy plans that the country has introduced is to reduce the level of CO2 emissions by industries in the country. The plan that is discussed, however, only targets the supply side of electricity, and the researchers admit that the reduction of CO2 emissions is very modest, a limitation of their current plan. Throughout this paper, I will discuss this article in greater detail.
“The energy and CO2 emissions impact of renewable energy development in China”
The researchers who constructed the article, “The energy and CO 2 emissions impact of renewable energy development in China,” are Tianyu Qi from the Institute for Energy, Environment and Policy of Tsinghua University; Xiliang Zhang, also from the Institute for Energy and Environment and Policy of Tsignhua University and the corresponding author, and Valerie J. Karplus from the Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the article, the researchers are trying to answer the following questions: How China plans to meet its energy and climate policy goals?, and How the policies employed help to meet these goals?.
The article discusses how the country of China has set forth a national carbon intensity reduction target of 17% which it would like to achieve by the year 2015. By the year 2020, the country of China has a goal of achieving a 40-45% intensity reduction of CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the country of China would like to increase the use of non-fossil fuel energy in its total primary energy use. The article states, “China’s renewable energy policy is currently focused on increasing the installed capacity of wind, solar, and biomass-based electricity” (Qi, 2014, p. 66-67). The article goes on to state that the country of China has development of the use of renewable energy sources substantially in recent years. Furthermore, the article examines that economic impact of China’s current renewable energy policies under several cost assumptions regarding renewable energy costs. The article found that although the renewable energy subsidies by the government did result in the increased use of renewable energy, the effect of these subsidies on the CO2 emissions of the country can be described as modest at best.
One treasons for this phenomenon is that the increased use of renewable energy would cause the prices of fossil fuels to fall; thus, making fossil fuels more cost friendly in the private sector and increasing their use there. The researchers further concluded that if subsidies were employed to promote the use of renewable energy for a set period, the use of renewable energy could be sustained after that period through 2050. However, the researchers found that something needs to be done in addition to government subsidies for the use of renewable energy for the policies to have a significant effect on the reduction of CO2 emissions. The researchers suggest that policies that employ an integrated energy-economic system which includes policies for the use of renewable energy as well as subsidies should be devised.
I agree with the conclusions of the article that the data shows that government subsidies are not going to do enough to reduce the level of CO2 emissions in China. This is partly because of the phenomenon that the article describes where the price of fossil fuels will drop as a result in the increase in the use of renewable energy in the public sector; thus causing those in the private sector to use more fossil fuels. The article states in its conclusion that renewable electricity delivers a low cost substitute when demand is high for fossil fuels, however, when the demand for fossil fuels is low, renewable energy would play a less significant role (See Qi, 2014, p. 68). Furthermore, it states that subsidies cost the government; therefore, this is a form of promoting the use of renewable energy that cannot be continued for substantially long periods of time. I believe that the country needs to set some energy policies where the reduction of CO2 emissions is a primary focus, stressing that renewable energy is the more desirable form of energy to use and emphasizing that the use of fossil fuels has some intangible costs associated with it.
One of the assumptions that is made by this article is that the people of the country of China in the private sector will seek out and use more fossil fuels as the cost for these fuels becomes cheaper due to the increased use of renewable energy promoted by government subsidies issued to company in the public sector. This may not be the case. In the United States, pushes for the use of green energy have received attention and commitments from both those in the public and private sector. The article does not take into account the environmental friendly position that many in China may take in response to the country’s CO2 emissions. The article only discusses ‘hard’ economic cost and assumes that will be the driving force to get more to use fossil fuels when renewable energy use causes the price of these fuels to drop. There may be many in China, however, that understand the intangible costs of the use of fossil fuels with their high carbon emissions and will not increase their use even when the demand for these fossil fuels begins to drop based on the increased use of renewable energy.