Archive for the Alternative Energy Category

China mulls BBQ ban in major cities to combat air pollution [Xinhua]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China, Energy, Environmental protection, Law enforcement on February 23, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

YES – DO IT. Chinese don’t barbeque in their backyards, like US citizens. Chinese don’t have backyards. The BBQ this article is talking about are private restaurants and street vendors who BBQ on the street using rinky-dink troughs; the fuel is some sub-standard charcoal which just pours out clouds of thick smoke. Popular with the masses, but extremely deleterious and a kind of widespread blight on the streets of China — Zuo Shou

BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The pressures of severe air pollution have prompted China’s environmental watchdog to consider pushing forward a legal ban on barbecues in densely populated urban areas.

Barbecues should be strictly controlled in cities to cut emissions of pollutants, according to a draft technical guideline issued earlier this month by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to solicit public opinions.

The draft especially advises major cities to adopt legislation banning barbecue-related activities.

On Wednesday, an anonymous official with the MEP said the guideline is designed to provide a package solution to the country’s PM2.5 air pollution problem.

PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which can embed deeply in people’s lungs.

The official called on the public to abstain from barbecues in cities and adopt a more environmentally-friendly way of life through various means, including reducing energy consumption in the cooking process, using food preparation techniques that produce less smoke and less pollution and setting off fewer firecrackers.

A Sunday report from the MEP attributed the higher-than-normal PM2.5 readings during the Spring Festival holiday to the use of firecrackers, which people set off as a traditional way of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The draft also specifies response measures in industrial, agricultural and other sectors to reduce pollution, including better oil quality for cars and more efficient uses of energy.

It also proposes “significantly reducing” PM2.5 by 2020.

Once adopted, the guideline would serve as a suggestion and reference, according to the draft.

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China’s on-grid wind power capacity sees substantial growth – 87% annually over 6 years[Xinhua]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China on August 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) — China’s wind power sector has witnessed substantial growth, with the country’s on-grid wind power capacity reaching over 50 gigawatts to date, the State Grid said Wednesday.

The State Grid, China’s largest utility company, said in a press release that on-grid wind power capacity under its distribution has reached 50.26 gigawatts as of this year, indicating an annual growth rate of 87 percent for the last six years.

However, the regional concentration of wind resources and technical obstacles have prevented the efficient use of wind power, the company said.

Zhang Zhengling, spokesman for the State Grid, said China’s utilization of wind energy has reached a "relatively high level" following a string of measures to monitor and adjust the use of the energy.

In 2011, power generated from wind totaled 70.6 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh), 28.2 times the amount generated in 2006, according to Zhang.

Linking regional networks to the national power grid remains a stumbling block for the growth of the sector, Zhang said.

"The key problem is that regional connections are still weak, and there is not yet a unified national market and corresponding grid network," said Shu Yinbiao, deputy manager of the State Grid.

Shu said China should speed up the construction of trans-regional power grids in order to meet its new energy development goals.

The country’s on-grid wind power capacity is expected to reach 100 gigawatts by 2015 and 200 gigawatts by 2020.

The focus on new energy comes as the country tries to shift away from fossil fuels and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent per unit of gross domestic product by 2015.

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China’s aviation industry to take ‘gutter oil’ as biofuel [People’s Daily]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China, Energy, Hangzhou, Transportation on March 22, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tu Lufang (Beijing Daily)

March 01, 2012

Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online

On Feb. 28, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) began reviewing the airworthiness of the No.1 Aviation Biofuel which is China’s first independently developed aviation biofuel product.

The biofuel product is developed by Sinopec, the country’s top oil refiner.

Sinopec began laboratory research on the No.1 Aviation Biofuel in 2009, and transformed its Hangzhou Refinery into a plant with an actual annual output of 6,000 tons after key breakthroughs achieved in the research project in 2011. The plant has been in smooth operation, and produced about 70 tons of aviation biofuel since its operation on Dec. 12, 2011.

During the review process, the CAAC will conduct a series of laboratory performance tests, compatibility tests, and test flights according to international standards. The CAAC will grant Sinopec the approval to use the biofuel in commercial civil aviation, after it is proven safe for aircraft.

The No.1 Aviation Biofuel is made from a variety of animal fat and vegetable oil and oils with Sinopec’s unique hydrogenation technology, catalyst system, and production procedures. Currently, the company is actively seeking new raw materials to produce aviation biofuel, including waste cooking oil and seaweeds.

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China’s massive stimulus creates side effects, economic development adjustments needed: economist [Xinhua]

Posted in Alternative Energy, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, CPC, Economy, Education, Environmental protection on December 11, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SANYA, Hainan, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — The massive stimulus that saved [sic] China’s economy has also caused many headaches for the country and is now forcing the country to change the way in which its economy is developing, a prominent economist said Thursday.

Cheng Siwei, former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said the 4-trillion-yuan (585.5 billion U.S. dollars) stimulus package, which helped lift China out of the 2008 crisis, has also created overcapacity, inflation and local debt crises.

Cheng made the remarks in a speech at the ongoing BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum.

Although the stimuli helped China achieve economic growth of 9.2 percent in 2009 and saved jobs for 8.53 million people, the massive investment has caused overcapacity issues in many industries and a decrease in investment efficiency, Cheng said.

Record lending in 2009 also created several lingering problems, including inflation, assets bubbles and local government debt issues, he said.

According to Cheng’s calculations, a total of 2.5 trillion yuan was poured into the property market in 2009.

China should work to encourage domestic consumption, create a “green” economy and start reforms in its educational system in order to change its future economic development, he said.

Cheng also pointed out that China needs to further open up and reduce its foreign reserves.

China should maintain its foreign reserves at around 20 percent of the country’s GDP, or about 1 trillion U.S. dollars, he said. China’s foreign reserves stood at 3.20 trillion U.S. dollars as of September this year.

China should also let its foreign exchange system more flexible, making yuan an international currency and completely convertible, he said.

China needs to strive for more balanced foreign trade, encourage outbound investment and facilitate the development of free trade zones, he said.

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“Why China has planning and the U.S. doesn’t” – Stern, Marx and the workers [Workers World]

Posted in 9/11, Alternative Energy, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, CPC, Economy, Energy, Environmental protection, Income gap, Labor, Marx, USA on December 9, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold
Published Dec 6, 2011

Andy Stern, former head of the giant Service Employees union in the United States, recently visited China as part of a delegation organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress. Stern, knowing very well that U.S. workers are in the midst of a long-term crisis of unemployment that shows no letup, was highly impressed with the goals of China’s 12th five-year plan, which were explained to the visiting group by high-ranking Chinese officials.

As he wrote in an op-ed column published Dec. 1 in no less than the Wall Street Journal, entitled “China’s Superior Economic Model,” China is aiming for “a 7 percent annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of 6 million homes; and expanding next-generation IT [information technology], clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection — all while promoting social equity and rural development.”

Stern did not scoff at these projections, nor did the pre-eminent newspaper of U.S. capitalism add any skeptical words. They both know from experience that China does not fall below its growth projections. On the contrary, it often exceeds them. Meanwhile, the capitalist world is reeling from crisis to crisis.

Stern said, “Our delegation witnessed China’s people-oriented development in Chongqing, a city of 32 million in Western China, which is led by an aggressive and popular Communist Party leader — Bo Xilai. A skyline of cranes are building roughly 1.5 million square feet of usable floor space daily — including, our delegation was told, 700,000 units of public housing annually. Meanwhile, the Chinese government can boast that it has established in Western China an economic zone for cloud computing and automotive and aerospace production resulting in 12.5 percent annual growth and 49 percent growth in annual tax revenue, with wages rising more than 10 percent a year.”

Stern knows how difficult it is for U.S. unions to negotiate even a 1 percent raise in the present economic environment. And he knows how every public service and program is being cut back right now.

Stern quotes from Intel chairperson Andy Grove, a big U.S. capitalist, and Asia Society head Orville Schell, a leading bourgeois intellectual, to argue that the “free-market model” so highly touted for years in this country needs “modification.” Finally he puts forward his own proposal: “America needs to embrace a plan for growth and innovation, with a streamlined government as a partner with the private sector.”

Lack of planning, he says, is the reason the U.S. is falling behind.

By writing this piece for the Wall Street Journal rather than a union or working-class newspaper, Stern is clearly appealing to U.S. capitalists to alter their thinking and embrace government planning for their own good. He even accedes to their demands for a “streamlined” government — meaning layoffs and budget cuts — probably hoping this will help win them over.

Unfortunately, he is spitting in the wind.

* What makes planning possible? *

It’s not that capitalist governments are incapable of planning. Even the U.S. government has an energy plan, a transportation plan, a plan to remodel health insurance, a plan to devise many new weapons systems, a plan to build more prisons, etc. Of course these plans are woefully inadequate when it comes to addressing the huge problems of unemployment, environmental degradation, a crumbling infrastructure and so on.

What the U.S. capitalist government does not have, and cannot have, is an overall plan for the economic development of the country. Yet that is exactly what China does have. So why is China so different from all the capitalist countries now experiencing financial and economic crises?

China allows capitalism to exist — it has stock markets, private ownership of some of the means of production, a growing bourgeoisie, and many social features of capitalism, like a big income gap between rich and poor. But it also has state ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, especially the major banks, as well as the industries vital to China’s infrastructure.

That is not the only difference, however. The Chinese state was born out of an earthshaking revolution, led by communists, that continued for decades and mobilized the masses of people to change society on a scale never reached anywhere else. In the 62 years of its existence, this state has been affected by internal struggles, by the growth of the bourgeoisie and also by the pressure of the masses. It has made many accommodations to the “capitalist roaders,” but it has not been overthrown or replaced with a capitalist state. Fundamental institutions, such as massive society-wide government planning for human and social need, remain intact.

China can produce a five-year plan that works because it is not a capitalist state. It can in a few years rebuild an ancient city like Chonqing into a huge and mostly modern metropolis the size of Maine, with 32 million people, because it is not shackled with a political structure run entirely by privately owned banks and real estate interests.

Contrast this with New York City, where it has taken 10 years just to begin rebuilding the area of downtown Manhattan destroyed in the 9/11 attacks and where high rents and lack of public housing leave an untold number homeless, especially in the oppressed Black and Latino/a communities. New York has no lack of construction machinery or skilled workers. What it lacks is a government that uses socialist planning to respond to the needs of the people in crucial areas of life rather than to the financiers, the landlords and the speculators.

* Profits at highest level ever *

The capitalist ruling class in the U.S. has reached a peak in its ability to siphon off the wealth of society. This was illustrated most graphically in new government figures on the economy reported in the Nov. 25 New York Times (“Off the Charts: For Business, Golden Days; For Workers, the Dross”).

The figures show that in the third quarter of this year, for the first time ever, the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that went to companies in the form of after-tax profits exceeded 10 percent.

In the same period, the share of the GDP that represents wages and salaries fell below 45 percent, also for the first time ever. And this decline occurred even though the government lumps together workers’ wages with the six- and even seven-figure salaries of the highest executives, which are once again on the rise.

What this shows is that capitalism is working exactly the way it is supposed to: it is accumulating capital in the hands of the already very rich, which means it is extracting surplus value from the hides of the workers as never before. Karl Marx rigorously proved a century and a half ago in his three-volume study of capitalism called “Capital” that the increasing accumulation of profit is rooted in the very essence of capitalist production and cannot be overcome by anything but the organized, militant struggle of the workers themselves.

The workers need a planned economy, not the chaotic and cruel one that capitalism imposes on them, where wars follow recessions and the race for profits never ends. Workers need their talents to be used to build up society, not grow the fortunes of a few. The achievement of a planned economy — a socialist economy — is a job that only they can carry through, not the CEOs of Intel or Chase Manhattan or any other representatives of the exploiting class.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Solar panel plant shut down as residents protest [People’s Daily]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China on October 4, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Sept. 19, 2011

Grievances and protests staged by more than 500 residents near a solar panel factory in East China’s Zhejiang Province has forced the plant to shut down and deal with pollution it has caused in its vicinity.

The protesters gathered outside the Jinko Solar Holding Co Ltd and aired their complaints and disapprovals last week.

The Shanghai Daily reported on Monday that local government in Haining City held New York-listed solar equipment plant responsible for discharging contaminated water into a local river system that has killed large numbers of fish.

Lately, rumors were running that “dozens of people” in Hongxiao Village of Haining had contracted cancers, including leukemia, because of drinking the contaminated water. Also, police has detained a man for spreading the rumors on the Internet.

The newspaper quoted Haining officials as saying that there were four cancer patients in the village reported last year and two this year, as contrast to the rumor claiming that 31 villagers had contracted cancers.

Because of the rumors, more than 500 villagers went to the factory Thursday night demanding an explanation, the Haining government said. Some protesters even charged into the factory compound, overturning eight company vehicles and ransacking offices.

On Friday, four police vehicles were damaged by the protesters, The Shanghai Daily reported.

Video footage posted on the Haining municipal government’s information office website showed the factory’s smashed windows, while dozens of police patrolling and maintaining order near the solar plant.

It is reported that the factory’s waste disposal system has been failing pollution tests since April. Despite warning from the relevant authorities, the plant had not effectively controlled the pollution, Xinhua News Agency cited Chen Hongming, deputy head of Haining’s environmental protection bureau, as saying.

Toxic waste from the plant, which manufactures photovoltaic panels, cells and wafers, contained excessive fluorine, The Shanghai Daily reported.

A 64-year-old Hongxiao villager surnamed Shi told The Associated Press not only did the factory discharge waste water into a river, it also spewed dense smoke out of a dozen chimneys.

“An elementary school and a kindergarten are located less than a kilometer from the plant. My house is only about 500 meters from the plant. Many fish died after the factory discharged waste into a small river,” Shi said.

“The villagers strongly request that this factory be moved to another area. I am very worried about the health of the younger generation,” he said.

A number of people suspected of theft and vandalism during the protest have been caught by police.

The incident was the latest major environmental protest in China.

Last month, 12,000 residents in the northeastern city of Dalian protested after storm waves broke a dike at a chemical plant and raised fears floodwaters could release toxic chemicals. Officials have pledged to relocate the plant.

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Three Gorges Dam problems revealed [People’s Daily]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China, Economy, Energy, Environmental protection, Natural disaster, Three Gorges Dam 三峡大坝 on May 27, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 20, 2011

The central government has for the first time acknowledged downsides to the Three Gorges Project, but vowed to correct the mishaps and improve disaster prevention mechanisms, as a severe drought in central and southern China threatens millions of people.

In a statement issued after a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the State Council said the project had played a key role in flood prevention and power generation, but admitted it had caused severe problems to the environment, shipping, agricultural irrigation and water supplies in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, an area of 633,000 square kilometers shared by eight provinces.

It added that the government would properly handle all negative effects caused by the Three Gorges Project, the largest hydropower project in the world, and improve long-term mechanisms for geological disaster prevention, ecological preservation and the promotion of biological diversity.

Efforts should be made to increase oversight and control of water pollution to ensure drinking water safety, it added.

The statement also pledged to raise the standard of living for the 1.24 million relocated residents through economic restructuring and infrastructure improvements, as well as ensuring the social security system covers all urban and rural residents by 2020.

The statement came as a lingering drought has left residents and livestock without drinking water and dried up rivers across the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The problem has mainly been centered in Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces…

…According to media reports, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGPC), the dam’s managing body, has been ordered to increase flows to lower reaches to help curb the drought.

The corporation resorted to the same measure in early 2010, which resulted in drought for the river’s upper reaches, affecting people in Chongqing, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

“Extreme conditions have increased since the Three Gorges Dam started to store water, but more scientific research is needed to prove a link between them,” Fan Xiao, head of Regional Geological Survey Group of Sichuan Bureau of Geological Exploration of Mineral Resources, told the Global Times.

Concerns about the dam’s knock-on effects have existed since the project’s inception. In the past, authorities generally denied any such questions, casting an aura of perfection on the project.

“The government’s acknowledgement of these problems is a step forward as in the past, we only talked about the project’s merits,” Kong Qingdong, a Peking University professor and a news commentator, told online video news channel Thursday. “It is a reminder that we should gather more dissenting opinions before approving any large-scale projects.”

The State Council statement acknowledged that some of the problems were known even before construction began 17 years ago. Furthermore, new problems arose along with the project’s development because of increased economic and social demands.

The project was approved by the National People’s Congress in 1992 with 67 percent of votes in favor, far more than the 50 percent needed for approval…

…The Three Gorges Project, built with a budget equivalent to $22.5 billion, is a multi-functional water control system, consisting of a dam, a five-tier ship dock and 26 hydropower turbo-generators.

Zhang Han contributed to this story

Source: Global Times

Edited by Zuo Shou

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