Investment Boom for Renewable Energy in China

China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of coal, and the country is also setting up the world’s largest power-generating system drawing on renewable energy sources. China’s current statistics on power consumption shows that ten percent of the power consumed is provided by renewable sources (solar, wind and hydroelectric power).

The China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC) predicts that the percentage of renewable energy will rise to 50 percent by the year 2030. This goal appears to be viable based on the fact that the Chinese government had already invested over 65 billion dollars in the development of alternative energies by late 2013. A comprehensive programme has been worked out together with the Chinese State Council and CNREC that covers the measures needed to achieve energy efficiency and develop “green” energy.

It was against this backdrop that a Management Training Programme was held in autumn of 2015 for Chinese executives, who investigated new trends and innovations in the field of renewable energy. It was the visit to the wind park in Berghülen run by Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) that made the strongest impression on the participants. The 138-metre-high wind turbines appeared ghostly rising through distance in the grey morning fog as the visitors approached the plant for a tour. The open and professional talk and the tour led by EnBW visitor guide Gerd Eisenmann earned much praise and enthusiasm from the Chinese MP participants. The Berghülen/Schopfloch plant has been in operation for three years and generates approx. 8650 MWh of CO2-free power per year.

The visitors were first given information on energy transition in Germany. But the participants were extremely interested in the detailed explanations concerning the construction of a wind turbine and the descriptions of the gearless and gear-based drive chain designs. It was the engineers in the group in particular who wanted to know about exactly what the differences were between asynchronous generators and synchronous generators and which German manufacturers build such systems. The participants also plan on implementing milestone plans in project management, checklists for site analysis, profit calculation, infrastructure (streets, power supply lines and distribution substations) and other methods and tools presented during the programme in their home country.

The idea of a citizen participatory investment scheme was especially interesting. Many private citizens (members) contributed capital to the project of constructing wind turbines in Berghülen, making them stakeholders in profits from the plants. Compared with China, where similar projects are generally financed with state funds, the concept is quite impressive – especially the fact that each and every citizen is eligible for equity participation. Upon leaving the company, all of the participants had become convinced that a mix of technological innovation, citizen support, energy-efficient integration and commitment to lowering costs can lead to lasting economic success in China.

By Violetta Sticker
Export Academy Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Tübingen