While smog in Beijing is serious, it pales in comparison to the pea soup London smog events of 1952.
While the public praises China for the additional annual quantity of electricity generated by wind and solar, it remains unnoticed and unmentioned that China had no choice but to lead the charge to renewables. Ten years ago China was a net exporter of oil. Now it is the world’s second largest importer behind the USA and within ten years its oil imports will almost certainly surpass those of the United States. Likewise natural gas. China is now one of the world’s largest importers of LNG.
Of more significance is coal. While China sits on the third largest reserves of coal worldwide, it mines over four billion tons annually and burns nearly 50% of the world’s coal production. In 2008 China exported coal. In 2014 it was the world’s second largest importer behind Japan. The cold hard fact is China will be out of coal in thirty years and has no option but to rapidly move to renewable energy sources as well as retool its economy away from manufacturing into services, in order to reduce if not eliminate the national growth of electricity consumption.
So China’s (and some developed nations’) rapid move into renewable energy is not based on altruism, but the necessity to come up with home-grown renewable energy sources which incidentally are being exported at profit to less developed nations.
Self-interest is the name of the game, and we in Guyana should keep this firmly in our crosshairs when choosing what form of energy generation we should choose to replace our inefficient and expensive use of oil to generate electricity.