Green Hops: Solar Irrigation, MEP Hall of Shame, Beijing Traffic

Nuclear is Hot. Big 5 power company China Huaneng Group has signed contracts with suppliers to equip its first nuclear power plant in Shandong province. The plant, planned for 200 MW in its first phase with a 2013 start date, will boast “high temperature, gas-cooled technology” (HTR-PM), which is supposed to be safer and simpler in design compared to conventional nuclear plants. It is the smallest of 21 plants in China’s nuclear pipeline. For the tech geeks our there, Tsinghua University, one of the purported suppliers of nuclear equipment for the project, has put out a paper describing HTR-PM.  A review of China’s nuclear sector is really overdue here at The Green Leap Forward. Watch for it.

Solar-Powered Water. The Xinjiang government has invested RMB 160 million ($23.5 million USD) in a drip irrigation system powered by solar panels. [Pictured: a picture of a generic drip irrigator stolen from the interweb].  Elsewhere, China Solar & Clean Energy Solutions has been awarded a US$3.5 million solar water heating project in Shenzhen.  Separately, the Beijing government announced it will invest RMB 13 billion (US$1.9 billion) over the next three years in wastewater and solar projects in rural areas. Guangxi Autonomous Region might just have to consider making similar investments in water purification after reports of 450 poisoned by high arsenic levels in their water.

ADB to spearhead EE financing projects. The Asian Development Bank is committing RMB 800 million (US$117 million) in financing, which is expected to take the form of partial credit guarantees, and will partner with multinational company Johnson Controls and Standard Chartered Bank to identify, finance and develop energy efficieny projects in China. A detailed background paper can be found here.

MEP Report Names and Shames. A report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced findings suggesting that urban environmental conditions have improved in 2007 in areas such as sewage treatment (up 9.4%) and garbage recycling (up 8.1%). The MEP took the opportunity, however, to blacklist northern Inner Mongolia’s Bayannur and Ulanqab, northwestern Gansu’s Baiyin, Xinjiang’s regional capital Urumqi and Hubei’s Huanggang had “relatively poor” air quality as having poor air quality, and the cities of Hengshui and Cangzhou in northern Hebei, Linfen in northern Shanxi, Fuyang in eastern Anhui, Tongchuan in northwestern Shaanxi and Wuwei in Gansu as having poor water quality. While the government officials of these cities on put on alert, the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning is “mulling a plan to assess provincial environmental performances.”

A Street Car Named Depression. The bad news is that China has 168 million vehicles on the road, up 5% from last year. The better news is that road safety seems to be improving, and a confluence of increased national car taxes, gasoline price hikes, and general concern for the imminence of the next Great Depression seems to have its impact on dampening car sales, which slumped for the second month in a row. (But obviously this is of small consolation as any sales of cars at all, even if at a declining growth rate, adds more cars on the streets.) In the week before Beijing’s modified post-Olympic traffic restrictions come into effect (with a new twist an old spin during periods of high pollution), the municipal government also increased gasoline prices by up to 4%, depending on fuel type. It remains to be seen if last week’s interest rate cut by China’s central bank, the second in less than a month, will be able to provide a bounce in car sales growth. Whatever it is, Beijing seems committed to curbing auto growth over the long term, with road pricing and tax incentives to promote electric vehicles among the policies being considered, said a Beijing transportation official.  Down south, Jiangsu province attempts to emulate Beijing’s measures.

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