China is a global leader in renewable energy: Panel

Updated: 2015-05-22 06:26

By XIAO LIXIN in New York(China Daily)

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China is a global leader in renewable energy: Panel

Geng Dan from Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association, Ernesto Macias from Alliance for Rural Electrification, Henning Wuester from IRENA, Christine Lins from REN21 and Irene Giner-Reichl from Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (from left to right) presented at a panel discussion of the UN’s second Sustainable Energy for All Forum held from May 18-21 in New York. [XIAO LIXIN / CHINA DAILY]

China has achieved huge progress over the last 10 years to become a global leader in renewable energy and the world's No 1 creator of jobs in the field, said panelists said at a forum on sustainable energy hosted by the United Nations.

The forum, which opened on Monday at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York and will run until Thursday, is the second annual event on energy dialogues hosted by the UN.

“China has been one of the world’s champions (in renewable energy utility) for the last few years,” said Christine Lins, executive secretary of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

According to REN21’s annual report on global progress in renewable energy, China doubled its capacity for wind power each year between 2004 and 2010, making it the world’s leading wind-energy producer.

“Air quality in major urban centers has concerned both governments and the public,” said Irene Giner-Reichl, executive director of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, which she said has pushed the Chinese government for faster deployment of renewable energy.

“China has announced its shift to a new norm that stresses more quality in economic development, as it has faced huge environmental consequences for the past development,” she said.

In addition to building its wind-power capacity, China leads the world with hydropower and has about half its solar PV production, according Lins.

“By the end of 2013, among the global installed hydropower capacities which increased to an estimated 1,000 GW from 715 GW, 300 GW came from hydro power installations in China, followed by 194 from the United States and 160 from Latin America,” he said.

“As for solar PV, with China’s annual installed PV capacity growing to 19 GW from only 0.3 GW in 2003, this spectacular increase in 2013 means that China accounts for about one-third of the global capacity added of solar PV.”

In 2014, China increased its investment in renewable energy to $83.3 billion from $56.3 billion, according to a preview of REN21’s 2015 report to be released early in June.

China's growth in both capacities and investment in the renewable energy industry has created new market opportunities and jobs.

Despite an increasing number of countries and regions investing in renewable energy, China tops all of them on creating new jobs in the sector, according to Henning Wuester, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“Excluding large-scale hydropower, renewable energy jobs reached an estimated 7.7 million in 2014,” said Wuester. “China has firmed up its position as the leading renewable energy job market with about 3.4 million employed, almost half the total number globally.”

Solar PV, as the largest renewable energy employer, accounts for about 2.5 million jobs, of which two thirds are in China. Employment in large-scale hydropower, according to research conducted by IRENA, was estimated to support another 1.5 million direct jobs, which are mostly in China and in the construction and installation sectors, said IRENA’s director-general.