In Barack Obama's first speech to Congress Tuesday, February 24 the president mentioned that China had a renewable energy law on its statute books. He declared that the U.S. must move in that same direction.
China's landmark renewable energy law took effect January 1, 2006, prompting the government to issue a number of pertinent new rules and technical criteria.
According to World Watch Institute, "In particular, financial subsidies and tax incentives for the development of renewable energy sources--including wind power, solar energy, biomass, and others--are in the enactment process."
One new regulation based on "feed-in laws" that had generated success in advancing renewables in Germany and other European nations addressed the core issues of pricing and fee sharing for on-grid renewable energy.
According to Xinhua News, the ruling stipulated two forms of renewable pricing, a government set price and a government guided price. For biopower energy derived from biomass or plants, the government would set the price based on the provincial or local on-grid price of desulfurized coal plus a government subsidy of 0.25 yuan (3 cents U.S.) per kilowatt hour.
The subsidy would no longer be available once a biomass project has been in operation for 15 years. For all renewable power projects approved after 2010, the subsidy provided per kilowatt hour generated will decrease at an annual rate of 2 percent.
In regard to biomass projects determined through competitive bidding, the winning price will be implemented provided it does not exceed the local price of grid-connected power. The on-grid price of wind will also be set by State Council authorities based on the bid winning price.
The price of solar, marine, and geothermal power projects will be determined on an economic and reasonable basis.
The U.S. economy could be enhanced by a competitive bidding process along these same guidelines. Whether in the United States or China, the right kind of economic competition can generate beneficial results. One area where positive results will be welcome is in the renewable green technology field.
As World Watch Institute stated:
"The Chinese government endorsed the Renewable Energy Law in February 2005, driven by a surging demand for energy as well as the desire for energy security, pollution reduction, and poverty alleviation. Specifically, the law aims to boost China's renewable energy capacity to 15 percent by the year 2020 and outlines a commitment to invest $180 billion in renewable energy over this period. It sets the stage for the widespread development of renewable energy in China, particularly for commercial-scale electricity generation facilities. Other financial issues under discussion include a national fund to foster renewable energy development as well as low cost loans and tax breaks for renewable energy projects."
Better than one year later China's energy watch dog launched a $266 plan detailing how the nation will achieve its target of obtaining 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The National Development and Reform Commission estimated that the move would create 2 million jobs but expected the lion's share to come from industry.
According to the plan local authorities were invested with the power to establish funds to subsidize renewables and promised corporate tax breaks for companies developing the technology.
The energy to be learned from Chinese initiatives is the necessity of fostering competition paving the way for a greener future through renewable energy technology.
When I visited Beijing in the fall of 2007 I noticed huge log jams on what Americans would term freeways or expressways. The helpful, well informed local guide explained that even though the distance was not great from Beijing's airport to the heart of the city that during hours when people are going to or returning from work delays can be long.
What I experienced there as well as riding through Beijing during business hours was comparable to freeway experiences I had driving and working in Los Angeles.
Traffic uncertainties made it difficult for me to calculate how long it would take to drive from the suburban San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles. The bumper to bumper traffic that existed in the Los Angeles area has been prevalent to a significant extent for not one but two generations.
As in the case of Beijing, tremendous pollution problems result from so many vehicles occupying space at one time. In my personal case, living in Los Angeles from birth to adulthood resulted at one point in a 20 percent loss in my operating lung capacity.
I read a study during the same period when I was informed of this loss, at a time when I was living in Florida, that the average loss as verified in one current study was that youngsters growing up in the greater Southern California area until adulthood experienced an average lung capacity loss of 19 percent, just one percent removed from my own personal experience.
The good news was that after living in Florida for one decade and visiting the Los Angeles area infrequently my lung capacity loss was no longer discernable. Experts at the allergy clinic where I was later tested in Fort Lauderdale indicated that the cleaner air I had been breathing resulted in a reversal of the harmful earlier pattern.
In cities such as Beijing and Los Angeles an effort must be made to reduce traffic, which spews harmful carbon dioxide while people sit and wait for hours on end. In Los Angeles some professionals have installed high tech mini offices in their cars so that work can be achieved during long traffic standstills.
Hybrid buses are one answer to snarling traffic. Efforts in this area need to be undertaken expeditiously to reduce traffic and toxic fumes that impair and will after sufficient exposure kill.