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By Julian Wong Dec.28.2009
In: urban planning
1 comment

From Salt Water to Green Islands: A Dutch Vision

This excellent clip by Radio Netherlands Worldwide tells of Dutch consultancy and engineering firm, DHV, and their efforts in Tianjin on the “Delta Diamonds ocean city development project.”  Naturally, it is labeled as an eco-city project–Green sells, so why not?  The objective, in a nut shell, is to create a series of new islands through land reclamation and build a new community for 20,000 people.  The site of these Delta Diamonds, as they are called, so happens to be right next to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, which we have blogged about previously here, here and here.

A more detailed description of the plan, particularly the land reclamation phase, is available here.  This Tianjin project is just one part of a portfolio of infrastructure projects of DHV in China.

In the video clip, Neville Mars, a Dutch Beijing-based architect skeptically points out: Read the full story

Greening China, One Video Clip at a Time

Let’s take a break from the heavy reading and enjoy some great video clips. The first two are first and third place winners of the UNFCCC/CDM International Video Contest 2009 (the theme was “How the Clean Development Mechanism Changes Lives”), the prizes for which will be awarded in Copenhagen during the ongoing climate summit. The third is first in an upcoming series by ClimateWorks.

Natural Gas Power Plant in Inner Mongolia Changes Nasong’s Lives, by Yang Li & Xiaochen Zhan


Waste Heat and Methane Capture Project at a Steel Plant in Hunan Province, by Van Yang


China Takes the Lead in Wind Energy Development, by ClimateWorks

China takes the lead in wind energy development from ClimateWorks on Vimeo.

Read the full story

China's Climate Progress by the Numbers

A common refrain from climate action naysayers is that, “China is building two coal-fired power plants a week!” They insist that the United States should wait until this major emitter takes on binding commitments to climate change mitigation before it decides to adopt global warming pollution reduction policies in the American Climate and Energy Security Act (H.R. 2454). They further claim that if such a bill became law, the United States would be transferring its jobs to countries such as China and India that are doing nothing to curb emissions. But that thinking is exactly wrong.

Critics fairly point to the fact that 80 percent of China’s power is derived from dirty coal, and that China recently surpassed the United States as the word’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Yet China’s per capita emissions remain a fifth that of the United States, and its historical cumulative per capita emissions from 1960 to 2005 are less than one-tenth that of the United States.

Still, the Chinese have recognized that it’s climate inaction—not climate legislation—that will lead to its own economic undoing. As the U.S. Congress debates the merits of enacting renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards, China has already forged ahead with building its own low-carbon economy, laying the foundation for clean-energy jobs and innovation.

China ranked second in the world in 2007 in terms of the absolute dollar amount invested in renewable energy, according to the Climate Group. It spent $12 billion, which put it just behind Germany’s $14 billion. These investments have placed China among the world leaders in solar, wind, electric vehicle, rail, and grid technologies. And now approximately 9 percent of China’s $586 billion economic stimulus package will go toward sustainable development (excluding rail and grid) projects.

China is expected to unveil in the coming weeks another extensive and unprecedented stimulus package—reported to be in the range of $440 billion to $660 billion—dedicated solely to new energy development over the next decade, including generous investments in wind, solar, and hydropower. If those expectations are fulfilled, China could emerge as the unquestioned global leader in clean-energy production, significantly increasing its chances to wean its energy appetite off coal, and at the same time ushering in an era of sustainable economic growth by exporting these clean-energy technologies to the world.

The bottom line: China is not there yet, but it is beginning to transition to a clean-energy economy through a wide range of actions. The United States should recognize China’s efforts and encourage China to expand upon them. We have sketched this claim before, but let’s run though the numbers in more detail. Read the full story

Green Hops: New Renewable Energy Targets, More Carbon Tax Chatter, Singapore-Nanjing Eco-city Announced

China’s energy intensity was down 2.9% in the first quarter of this year, reports the National Bureau of Statistics.  The decrease is based on a 6.1% growth in GDP measured against a 3.04% increase in energy consumption.  So remember this–despite and increased movement towards “decoupling”, energy consumption still rises as long as GDP rises.  Power consumption in the first quarter also dipped (by 4%), but the decrease in March (2%) was less than in January an Februrary (5.2%), suggesting that the economy may be starting to bottom out.

Fuels from Heaven

  • Wind to hit 100 to 150 GW by 2020
  • Solar to hit 10 to 20 GW by 2020
  • Renewable power to constitute 40% of electricty geneation by 2050

Wind targets to triple, may even quintiple! Anticipation is building up for the soon to be announced stimulus for renewable energy.  Analysts have their eyes peeled for the possibility of a revision in China’s long term renewable energy targets.  For wind and solar power, this stands at 30 GW and 1.8 GW, respectively.  But at current rates of development, 100 GW of wind by 2020 is probably achievable, and indications are 100 GW will be the new 2020 target.  Installed wind capacity is expected to grow 64% this year to hit 20 GW.  If China adds 8 GW a year from now till 2020, 100 GW will be surpassed, leading this report to speculate that the 2020 target may be raised to as much as 150 GW.

Northern central China will be the destination of many wind farms.  Meanwhile, Tianjin may be manufacturing hub that helps China’s wind industry lead that charge towards triple digit gigawattage as it boasts what is shaping up to be the world’s leading wind manufacturing industry cluster.  Vestas, which has a manufacturing presence in Tianjin, has launched a turbine model specifically for Chinese wind conditions.  The Danish company has begun sales of its V60-850 kW turbine, which has blade designs and temperature control systems to adapt to the tough winters in Inner Mongolia. The turbine is most effective in low and medium winds, which make up 75 percent of China’s unutilized onshore wind potential.

Solar to hit 20 GW by 2020?! As for solar, recent solar policy developments may have set China on course for 10 GW, or even 20 GW by 2020, remarks Wang Zhongying, assistant director at the NDRC’s Energy Research Institute and head of its Renewable Energy Development Centre.   As projected in my recent solar policy paper, polysilicon production is ramping up domestically.  This means lower PV panels prices and a steady march towards grid parity.

40% Renewable Electricity Standard by 2050? This was only mentioned in passing, and I have not seen this anywhere else, but it seems that 40% may be set as a long term target (i.e. 2050) for the proportion of renewable sources making up total electricity generation.  Sounds encouraging, but far off the 60+% that the Tyndall Center sees as necessary to stabilize the climate (see previous post). Read the full story

Green Hops: Water Forum, Gasoline Price Hikes, Guangdong LED

Editor’s Note:  This edition of Green Hops contains an inexplicably frequent number of references to Guangzhou and Guangdong.  We wonder why that might be…

Water issues continue to dominate China’s environmental agenda thanks to the recent World Water Forum in Turkey.  The forum ended pathetically, failing to recognize water as a basic human right.  But in more positive news, Guangzhou (capital city of southeastern Guangdong province) received the “Compromiso Mexico” water prize, which rewards “the best local public policies that have had a positive impact on the drinking water, sewerage and sanitation services in the communities they interact with.”  According to Xinhua:

Since 1997, the government launched a number of water initiatives, which greatly improved the once heavily polluted inlets of the city’s Pearl River. The government is expected to allocate 48.6 billion yuan (some 7.11 billion U.S. dollars) for water management in 2009 and 2010, which accounts for one third of its financial budget.

Read the full story

By Julian Wong Feb.27.2009
In: agriculture, rural development, urban planning
10 comments

Eco-Infrastructure: Letting Nature Do the Work

There are perhaps 40 different eco-city projects across China at the moment.  If you had to design your own city, what would its infrastructure look like?  Are cities, per se, even the right form of settlement for eco-planners to design?  Here, The Green Leap Forward takes a look at several ideas in eco-community design, inspired by visits to several proposed eco-city sites in China last year, several presentations at a recent conference at the National University of Singapore, and the writings of Brian Milani.

Unified Infrastructure: Using Systems Thinking to Build Communities

If we think about the essential functions of a city, we would probably come up with a list including housing, food, clean water and air, electricity, mobility and access, education, jobs, recreation, and perhaps a few others.  The problem is that these seemingly disparate Read the full story

By Julian Wong Feb.2.2009
In: policy, urban planning, water
1 comment

Water Quality and Urban Wastewater Management in China

At Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable (BEER) last month on Jan 21, Yusha Hu built upon Christine Boyle’s presentation on Northern China’s water crisis and agricultural water use with a discussion on urban water management issues.

Yusha is a 2008-2009 Fulbright Fellow studying water resource management and policy at Tsinghua University, with the Division of Environmental Policy and Management of the Environmental Science Department. Her research interests lie in the use of water policy and water resource management as a tool to better understand the process between federal environmental policy creation and local policy implementation in China. Yusha holds a BA in Biology and Environmental studies from Swarthmore College.

Here are her slides and synopsis of her presentation: Read the full story

Low Carbon Pump-Priming?

You didn’t think The Green Leap Forward would go on to celebrate its first birthday (next week, folks!  December 2nd!) without commenting on the recently announced RMB 4 trillion (US$586 billion) pump-priming package did you?

Of course not.

The basics of the package is that a total of RMB 4 trillion will be spent by the central government, local governments and state-owned enterprises in ten major areas, mostly infrastructure related.  It is not clear to what extent part of the package is simply a repackaging of already existing budgets or expenditure plans in order to provide a psychological lift to the sagging stock markets.  The more important question to readers of this blog, however, is to what extent the package addresses China’s environmental and energy (E&E) needs? Read the full story

By Julian Wong Nov.21.2008
In: urban planning
10 comments

Update from Tianjin: Report on the Ground

Yesterday, The Green Leap Forward took to the road to Tianjin again, this time as part of a US-delegation organized by the US-China Green Energy Council (UCGEC) exploring the green tech potential of Tianjin.  One of the stops was a visit the site of the proposed Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.   Not much more to report from our previous post, but we got some cool visuals.  Upon arrival, we were quickly ushered into an enclosed building,  only to be shown poster exhibits that is basically a rehash of the master plan already available on their website.  The saving grace was a large model of the city that we took some pictures of: Read the full story

By Julian Wong Nov.16.2008
In: urban planning, water
6 comments

Creating A Better Life: A Closer Look at the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Project

China has become an international capital and laboratory for eco-city projects.  The unprecedented scale of rural-to-urban migration is creating pressing demands on existing urban infrastructure, but also the opportunity for city planners to create new cities based on more sustainable, and even ecological patterns of development.

Rising from above the fray of the multitude of eco-city proposals is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project (sketch drawing pictured), which is the first of any of the proposal, as far as The Green Leap Forward knows, to have actually broken ground.  This blog first mentioned this project back in February.  On September 28, ground was broken and municipal regulations (hereinafter, the “Regulations”) governing the development of the project came into effect.  The remarkable speed at which this project moved from concept (in April 2007) to groundbreaking, while other projects which have been planned and talked about for years remain mired in bureaucratic standstill, can be best be explained in the context of Singapore’s long term economic relationship with China.   This is not the first time both countries are collaborating on a township-scale development project in China;  Suzhou Industrial Park was the first in 1990s and just last month, China and Singapore also entered into a bilateral free trade agreement. Read the full story