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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is the Silicon Valley of Clean Energy Growing in China?

How Baoding, China became the world's first "carbon positive" city.

(by Tyler Burton, crossposted from The Breakthrough Blog)

100 miles southwest of Beijing, a green revolution is underway; and it began, as Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor reports, with a "bad case of smelly fish".

Yu Qun (pictured) had only recently been elected mayor of Baoding, China when fish in the region's largest lake began to die by the thousands. In his mind, this could only be the direct result of pollution from the several hundred factories which lined the river's banks. So Mr. Yu took a drastic but, in the long run, incredibly fortuitous step: he closed the factories.

This move cost his city large points at first with the Central Government. His annual economic growth was down almost two percentage points; but Mr. Yu had a plan:

"Polluting first and cleaning up later is very expensive," says the boyish-looking mayor, a former college math teacher. "So we chose renewable energy to replace traditional industry."

In three years, Yu has transformed Baoding from an automobile and textile town into the fastest-growing hub of solar, wind, and biomass energy-equipmentmakers in China. Baoding now has the highest growth rate of any city in Hebei Province. Its "Electricity Valley" industrial cluster - consciously modeled on Silicon Valley - has quadrupled its business.

Of course, Mr. Yu met large resistance at first. Many officials in the provincial and central governments thought he was "impractical", that "renewable energy was 30 or 40 years away..." (Sound familiar?) But Yu persisted, and his persistence paid off.
Such has been the success of his perseverance, and of the advantages that Baoding offered new "green-tech" investors, that the city now houses nearly 200 renewable energy companies. One of them makes blades for wind farms in Texas. Another is providing the solar panels for the largest solar power station in the world, in Portugal.

"New energy has become a pillar industry in our city," the mayor says. Within two years, he forecasts, it will have overtaken the auto and textile sectors as the most important mainstay of the local economy.

And what's good for Baoding may be good for the world. By one reckoning, the city is the world's first to go "carbon positive": The carbon saved annually worldwide through the use of equipment made here outweighs the city's own emissions.
As America struggles to retool its aging manufacturing sector, perhaps one city's success at sloughing off its own burden of pollution can offer inspiration. A word to city planners far and wide: we might do well to look towards our own pragmatic Mr. Yu's. If we dare to make bold choices with a slant towards the future, what can we accomplish in 3 years?


Anonymous said...

Why don't we really call them what they are-oil and coal wonks. They have received 18 billion dollars a year in tax incentives for the past 14 years. The coal industry has had at least one hundred years to clean up their mess and still they want the tax payer to foot the bill. I say screw them and the horse the rode in on....The dumb (*^*7 told us for years how much cheaper coal was than natural gas or renewable energy all the time destroying the only planet that we have. They cried about acid rain and said that if they had to remove the sulfur it would bankrupt the industry-another fat lie. The big oil companies are just as evil. They had their bosom buddy Cheney concoct a lie to give his oil crony buddies an excuse to go and steal Iraqi oil. These men are far worse than hitler. They make me sick. The first word of their mouths in the morning is me and the last one is me. They are evil sobs. Lies, lies and more lies. We illegally invaded a country. Does anyone here realize what that means to capitalism. One of these days we are going to have it broke off in us as other countries will band together to destroy us. That if the planet does not completely disintegrate before then. The new Chevy volt is said to get over 200 miles per gallon in the city. Do you think for a minute that these technologies existed before Obama got into office. If you do not then you most likely work for big oil. You raving mad dog idiots need to sit down and shut up and let us clean up your mess.

Anonymous said...

The governments sole purpose is to provide a level playing field in a democracy. To that end they pass laws for the benefit of the people. We shalt not be taxed without representation. Do you really think that in the past 10 years the men and women of this country have been represented fairly? No! Absolutely not! If all that I had was these sick idiots to look up to as role models when I was growing up, I would have hurled myself off a 10 story building.
We have four industries in the United States that are Americas finest thieves and thugs: Big oil,coal industry, pharma, banks.
Get real America, if you are listening to bill the blathering idiot Oriely. They do not report the news. They provide a commentary every day. They have no problem lying or distorting the facts to suit their thug overlords at big oil and coal, pharma and the banks. Rupert Murdock is a slimy b-stard and should be ran out of our country.