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Power switch


Energy is indispensable to society's development. In recent years, as climate change and the planet's deteriorating environment have brought about more extreme weather conditions and natural disasters, developing countries are facing the rising dual challenges of ensuring economic growth and environmental protection.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging around the world, countries, including the developing countries, are obliged to fight against the virus while pursuing green economic recovery. Against the backdrop of a global push for realizing carbon neutrality, an energy transformation is essential to meet the developing nations' desire for growth, while accommodating their long-term ecological conservation.

As a Chinese proverb goes, the going may be tough when one walks alone, but it gets easier when people walk together. China is thus ready to promote the use of renewable energy along with other developing countries to strive for the sustainable development under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

As the world's largest developing country, China has, in recent years, ramped up its efforts to promote the use of renewable energy. At the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, President Xi Jinping said China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures, and will strive to peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, which demonstrates China's sense of responsibility as a major country. By the end of 2020, China was the world's largest producer and user of renewable energy, accounting for one-third of the global installed capacity of renewable energy and more than half of the world's newly installed wind and solar power capacity.

In 2020, China's renewable energy consumption reached 680 million metric tons of standard coal, which is equivalent to a 1 billion ton reduction in coal burned; it helped cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.79 billion tons, sulfur dioxide emissions by 864,000 tons and nitrogen oxides emissions by 798,000 tons.

China has been continuously stepping up cooperation on renewable energy with other developing countries. In recent years, China's National Energy Administration and the African Union Commission have proposed to jointly set up a China-Africa energy cooperation center that focuses on clean energy collaboration. The two sides have already established the China-AU energy partnership, which prioritizes clean energy cooperation. In Asia, China and Pakistan have founded a working group on energy under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and jointly pushed ahead with more than 10 clean energy projects. China has also formed a series of clean energy cooperation mechanisms with developing countries in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises are fueling the developing world's energy transformation. Statistics show that since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed, China has cooperated with more than 100 developing countries on renewable energy, especially solar and wind power, which account for roughly three-fourths of all energy cooperation programs. In Asia, the region that attracts the most investment, renewable energy accounts for nearly 60 percent of all energy projects.

Through their participation in renewable energy projects, Chinese enterprises have helped alleviate power shortages in developing countries to benefit local residents.

In Africa, the China-aided Phase I of the Adama Wind Farm Project in Ethiopia is one of the country's flagship projects during its first Five-Year Plan (2010-14) and its first wind power project. It has an installed capacity of 51 megawatts, which consists of 34 units of 1,500-kilowatt wind turbines. It is also the first overseas wind power project using Chinese technology, standards, equipment and management. It can provide 164 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity to local people every year.

In Southeast Asia, the 400-MW Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Plant in Cambodia features a 6.5 kilometer-long dam, the longest in Asia. Partly built by a Chinese enterprise, the hydropower plant accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country's total installed power capacity, contributing to the harnessing of the hydropower of the Mekong River.

In South Asia, the Karot Hydropower Station in Pakistan is the first hydropower project backed by the Belt and Road Initiative, and the first under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Using Chinese technology and standards, the Karot Hydropower Station boasts an installed capacity of 720 MW, and can provide 3.2 billion kWh of clean power to locals annually.

President Xi pledged at the 76th UN General Assembly in September that China will vigorously support other developing countries' efforts to pursue green and low-carbon development, and stop funding coal-fired power projects overseas. Following the announcement, Chinese enterprises will earnestly implement the commitments, and adopt a string of policies to boost investment and the building of renewable energy projects overseas, thus playing a bigger role in promoting global green and sustainable development.

China and other developing countries form a community with a shared future. Since the inception of the Belt and Road Initiative, they have helped and supported each other and blazed a unique path of new energy cooperation. In the future, China will continue supporting the energy transformation of developing countries with its own experience and wisdom, and strive for carbon peaking and carbon neutrality worldwide, making further contributions to addressing climate change through South-South cooperation.

The author is director of the international department of the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn