The issue of energy could take up a hundred pages or more to do a proper job in covering China’s issues and the building of eco-friendly cities, so only a small picture is presented in this article.
The fact that China is looking elsewhere for it’s energy indicates that China has not looked hard enough at home. If consulted, one could propose the following: follow Germany’s example and convert all homes or apartments to be the most efficient possible, like the PassivHaus design. Then add Solar heating to every home with Heat Pumps to store excess heat in the ground and withdraw it as needed. Then, and only after having wrung out all the energy savings they could, out of every possible source, they should add Solar Photovoltaic panels and Helix windmills to help supply the needed electricity.
Something that China was doing right was building Biogas plants in rural areas. China claims it has over 11 million plants already and by 2005 it was planning on bringing that total to 20 million. Not sure if it did. One coulld ask, why not in cities? Rural too of course. Sewerage plants could be very efficient in methane production. They would accept human, animal, and food waste to produce as much methane as possible. The methane from a Biogas plant can be cleaned and put directly into pipelines that feed every home to supply them with cooking gas. Now you have a sustainable city like Dongtan on the island of Chongming off shore from Shanghai is suppose to be.
The city of Dongtan was designed by a British firm in 2005 to be the best Eco-Village making use of the latest technology possible. The city was to use 66% less energy than Shanghai. There would be no cars in the city either only public transit, bicycle paths and foot paths. Also every space possible would be utilized to its utmost, even to grow food wherever possible. The entire city was to be powered by wind, solar and biodiesel. Ambitious, so what happened? Nothing, except a wind farm was built, just no city. The whole idea vaporised and went away.
China tries but it suffers from a government that lacks vision, creativity or ambition focused in the right direction. Or even a vision that isn’t short-sighted. When the government gets an idea stuck in its head it bulldozes forward, full steam ahead even if that idea is wrong or bad. Kinda sound like the U.S. government doesn’t it. China needs to put that energy and drive into building a sustainable city like Dongtan instead of more coal fired power plants or another three-gorges type dam.. It should read this post and start by cutting energy consumption to the maximum, then replace what coal fired power plants that are left with Photovoltaics, Many smaller wind projects at the local level, and continue to add Biogas plants across the country, the cities too.