"China does develop alternative energy," Tu said. "But the supply scale [in the country] has not yet formed."
The expansion of renewable energy in China is the classic chicken and egg problem. Some would say the supply spectrum is not big enough to create demand, while others would argue the current minimal demand in the country couldn't lure suppliers to pay more attention to the domestic market.
The Chinese government learned a lesson during the 11th five-year plan after a relatively ambitious target was set for renewable energy: 10 percent of total consumption. It turned out the actual share of renewables was 7.9 percent.
Therefore, China's National Energy Administration has quietly lowered the bar for the subsequent period of 2011 to 2015. According to the official figure, the goal is for new energy to account for 9.5 percent of overall consumption.
While the clock is ticking to clear the air, China has high expectations for shale gas, a type of natural gas, in the 12th five-year period, although it is 15 to 20 years away from achieving the pace set by the United States.
Yet the country's government has not determined an official figure for the total reserve. Other thorny issues, such as mining rights, underground water pollution, technology standards, pipeline construction and chemical use, will take a long time to be resolved.
Having factored in the uncertainties of using shale gas, the Chinese government has placed its hope on controversial nuclear energy. A report from the state newspaper China Daily in March of last year said the government would have planned to endorse the construction of 10 nuclear power projects, which would raise capacity to about 43 gigawatts by 2015.
But policymakers are concerned by the nuclear crisis in Japan after its magnitude-9 earthquake last year. KPMG, a global consulting firm, quoted industry experts in its commentary as saying the pace of developing nuclear projects would be slowed even though the Chinese government would resume its approval for such investment.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500