China plans building its first low carbon city

China plans building its first low carbon city

A pipe releases smoke in front of a construction building shrouded in smog in Beijing. (AP Photo)

Baoding, Hebei province:  The Chinese city of Baoding, in the heavily industrialised Hebei province, is attempting to become China's first low carbon city, with its industrial park having created around 20-thousand jobs from renewable energy industries.

On first impression, Baoding does not seem remarkably different from any other midsize city in China, with its smog and dusty roads.

But what is setting it apart is the type of industries that the town has been attracting in the past few years.

Baoding has become China's new "Power Valley", attempting to transform itself into a low carbon city, and becoming an industrial base for the production of clean and renewable energy related technology and products.

Yes it is still some way off being a model of clean energy usage. It still relies heavily on coal for its energy consumption.

Some effort has been made, however, to start a transition into using more renewable energy sources.

Solar panels have been installed on streets lamps, but renewable energy usage in the city is still very low.

As the city works to transform itself to a low carbon one the Chief Strategy Officer for Yingli Solar, Ma Xuelu, said transformation does not happen overnight, adding that the town still relies on coal for energy consumption.

Yingli Solar in Baoding is one of the leading manufacturers of photovoltaic products in China.

When it first opened the company had 30 employees. Today, the company employs a work force of around 7,000.

With a successful exporting business to the US and Europe, the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007, and the following year their total turnover rose to an equivalent of around 1.2 billion US dollars and profits close to 200 million US dollars.

The year 2009 saw growth reach 91.5 percent compared to the previous year.

China has also surpassed the United States as the world's largest market for wind turbines, and during the past four years it has been doubling installations each year.

State owned Tianwei Wind Power is another such company that has chosen a base in Baoding industrial park.

At present, the company is only producing 150 units of wind turbines per year, but the Vice Manager, Jing Chongyou said that there was momentum to produce 1,500 units per year.

On the way out of the Power Valley lies a peculiar hotel. Square photovoltaic panels pave the walls and roofs of the building, giving it a futuristic appearance.

Inside, the lobby and hallways are decorated as lavishly and exuberantly as any five star hotels in China.

The hotel was built by Yingli Solar and stands as an example to renewable energy, powered by solar energy.

As world leaders battle to achieve a global agreement to substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions at Copenhagen, China has promised to slow its carbon emissions, saying it would nearly halve the ratio of pollution to GDP over the next decade.

It is a major move by the world's largest emitter, whose cooperation is crucial to any deal as a global climate summit approaches.

At a recent news conference, Xie Zhenhua, China's climate change envoy and deputy director of the State Development and Reform Commission said that China needed "to develop green, low carbon and renewable energy."

China has said repeatedly it will seek binding pollution targets for developed countries at Copenhagen, and rejects similar requirements for itself.

It has said most environmental damage was caused by developed nations during their industrialisation over the last 100 to 200 years and that they should take most of the responsibility for the clean-up.

Environmental groups say China is trying to balance its efforts with the need to keep its economy growing quickly to pull people out of poverty.
Story First Published: December 11, 2009 18:36 IST

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