China has made an unprecedented strategic decision that has far-reaching implications for the global community, and is driven by a sense of responsibility to address important environmental challenges.
Recently, China launched an ambitious renewable energy project in the Tanger Desert within the Ningxia Hui region, an important step towards sustainable development. Operated by the China Energy Investment Corporation, the project is the first of its kind on a large scale and has already started producing electricity this year. Notably, it is one of several projects being set up in arid regions such as the Gobi Desert as part of China’s wider commitment to renewable energy.
In line with its five-year plan, China aims to install 100 gigawatts of renewable energy, mainly solar and wind, in these desert regions by 2026. The first phase of the effort has an impressive installed capacity of 1 million kilowatts and is expected to generate 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours annually, the equivalent of powering 1.5 million homes.
In addition, the project represents China’s inaugural ultrahigh-voltage power transmission channel, delivering clean energy to Hunan Province, home to more than 66 million people. The importance of this initiative cannot be overstated, especially given China’s position as the world’s largest producer of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. In fact, 2019 data showed that China’s emissions account for 27% of the world’s total emissions, surpassing the combined emissions of all other developed countries.
China’s heavy reliance on coal power has contributed significantly to these emissions, with more than 1,058 coal plants in operation, representing more than half of global capacity. Coal and other polluting energy sources are a major contributor to global warming, accounting for more than 75% of all pollutants and nearly 90% of harmful carbon emissions, according to a United Nations report.
To address these serious environmental concerns, China has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2060, with a peak no earlier than 2030. Analysts have pointed out that regions such as Ningxia, rich in wind and solar resources, will play an important role. In transitioning China’s energy mix toward cleaner sources, helping the nation meet its ambitious emissions reduction goals.
In 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized that this strategic decision is rooted in his sense of responsibility towards building a shared future for all humanity, as well as securing sustainable development for China. Encouragingly, China has shown concrete progress towards fulfilling this promise.
This development holds great promise for the planet, as China’s commitment to renewable energy and emissions reductions represents an important step towards tackling climate change and building a more sustainable future.