Renewable energy is helping China complete its economic transformation and achieve "energy security". China rapidly has moved along the path of renewable energy development. About 17 percent of China's electricity came from renewable sources in 2007, led by the world's largest number of hydroelectric generators. Total installations of hydropower reached 145,000 MW in 2007. China has set a target of 190,000 MW for 2010. Technology development and increased amounts of investment in renewable energy technologies and installations has increased markedly throughout the 2000s in China, and investment in renewables is now part of China's economic stimulus strategy. Researchers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University have found that the People's Republic could meet all of its electricity demands from wind power by 2030.
Total installations of hydropower reached 145,000 MW through 2007. China has set the target of 190,000 MW for 2010.
On April 6, 2007 the Gansu Dang River Hydropower Project was registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in accordance with the requirements of Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project consists of the construction and operation of eight run-of-river hydropower plants providing total capacity of 35.4GW, which will generate an average of 224,040 MWh/annum. The power generated by the project, which is located in Dang Town, Subei Mongolian Autonomous County, Gansu Province, China, and which was certified by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to be in compliance with the "Measures for the Operation and Management of Clean Development Mechanism Projects in China", will be sold to the Gansu power grid which is part of the China Northwest Regional Power Grid (NWPG), thereby displacing equivalent amounts of electricity generated by the current mix of power sold to the NWPG. The developer of the Gansu Dang River Hydropower Project, which started construction on November 1, 2004, is the Jiayuguan City Tongyuan Hydropower Co., Ltd. The Letter of Approval of the NDRC permits the Jiayuguan City Tongyuan Hydropower Co., Ltd. to transfer to Japan Carbon Finance, Ltd., an entity approved by the government of Japan no more than 1.2 million MT of carbon dioxide emissions in total Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) over the seven year period beginning on May 1, 2007 and ending on April 30, 2014.
In 2006 there was 10,000 MW of installed hydropower capacity that went into operation in China. The National Development and Reform Commission also approved 13 additional hydropower projects in 2006, which cumulatively will have 19,511 MW of power generating capacity. New hydropower projects that were approved and began construction in 2006 include the Jinsha River Xiangjiaba Dam (6000 MW), the Yalong River Mianpi (Second Phase) (4800 MW), the Lancang River Jinghong (1750 MW), the Beipan River Guangzhao (1040 MW) and the Wu River Silin (1000 MW). In 2005 the following hydroelectric power projects were approved by the NDRC and began construction: the Jinsha River Xiluo Crossing (12600 MW); the Yellow River Laxiwa Dam (4200 MW and the Yalong River Mianpi (First Phase) (3600 MW).
At the end of 2008, wind power in China accounted for 12.2 GW of electricity generating capacity and China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country's economy. China is the fourth largest producer of wind power, after the United States, Germany, and Spain.
By the end of 2008, at least 15 Chinese companies were commercially producing wind turbines and several dozen more were producing components. Turbine sizes of 1.5 MW and 2 MW became common. Leading wind power companies were Goldwind, Dongfang, and Sinovel. China also increased production of small-scale wind turbines to about 80,000 turbines (80 MW) in 2008. Through all these developments, the Chinese wind industry appeared unaffected by the global financial crisis, according to industry observers.
The initial future target set by the Chinese government was 10 GW by 2010, but the total installed capacity for wind power generation in China has already reached 25.1 GW by the end of 2009 . China aims to have 100 gigawatts of wind power capacity by 2020..
China produces 30% of the worlds solar photovoltaics (PV). Major Chinese solar PV modules manufacturers include: Suntech Power Holdings, Trina Solar, Yingli Solar, Canadian Solar, Solarfun, Upsolar. Thin-film PV producers include ENN Solar and Astronergy Solar. While poly-silicon and wafers producers are LDK and Renesola
China has become a world leader in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic technology, with its six biggest solar companies having a combined value of over $ 15 billion. Around 820 megawatts of solar PV were produced in China in 2007, second only to Japan..
Following the new incentive scheme of Golden Sun announced by the government in 2009, there are numerous recent developments and plans announced by industry players that became part of the milestones for solar industry and technology development in China, such as new thin film solar plant developed by Anwell Technologies in Henan province using its own proprietary solar technology, the agreement signed by LDK for a 500MW solar project and the solar power plant project in a desert teamed up with First Solar and Ordos City. The effort to drive the renewable energy use in China was further assured after the speech of the Chinese President given at the UN climate summit on 22 Sept 2009 in New York, pledging that China will adopt plans targeting to use 15% of its energy from renewable sources within a decade. 
About 50 MW of installed solar capacity was added in 2008, more than double the 20 MW in 2007, but still a relatively small amount. According to some studies, the demand in China for new solar modules could be as high as 232 MW each year from now on until 2012. The government has announced plans to expand the installed capacity to 20GW by 2020. If Chinese companies manage to develop low cost, reliable solar modules, then the sky is the limit for a country that is desperate to reduce its dependence on coal and oil imports as well as the pressure on its environment by using renewable energy.
China emerged as the world’s third largest producer of ethanol bio-fuels (after the U.S. and Brazil) as of the end of the 10th Five Year Plan Period in 2005 and at present ethanol accounts for 20% of total automotive fuel consumption in China. In the 11th Five Year Plan period (2006 through 2010) China plans to develop 6 million tpy of fuel ethanol capacity, which is expected to grow to 15 million tpy by 2020. Despite this level of production, experts say that there will be no threat to food security, though there will be an increasing number of farmers who will be "farming oil" if the price of crude oil continues to increase. Based on planned ethanol projects in some provinces in China, the output of corn would be insufficient to provide the raw material for those plants in those provinces. In the recently published World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund expressed concern that there would be increasing competition worldwide between bio-fuels and food consumption for agricultural products and that that competition likely would continue to result in increases in prices of crops.
Work has begun on the 250 million Yuan Kaiyou Green Energy Biomass (Rice Husks) Power Generating project located in the Suqian City Economic Development Zone in Jiangsu Province. The Kaiyou Green Energy Biomass Power project will generate 144 million kwh/year and use 200,000 tpy of crop waste as inputs.
Several provisions in relevant Chinese laws and regulations address the development of methane gas in rural China. These provisions include Article 54 of the Agriculture Law of the People’s Republic of China, Articles 4 and 11 of the Energy Conservation Law of the People’s Republic of China, Article 18 of the Renewable Energy Law of the People’s Republic of China and Article 12 of the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China Concerning Restoring Farmland to Forest.
On April 20, 2007 the Environment and Resources Committee of the National People's Congress and the National Development and Reform Commission convened a conference on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Renewable Energy Law. There were approximately 250 people who attended the conference from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Construction, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the National Bureau of Forestry, the National Power Network Company, science and technology institutes, oil companies, large energy investment companies, companies manufacturing renewable energy equipment, etc. Other conferences held include The 3rd Annual China Power & Alternative Energy Summit 2007 was held on May 16-20, 2007 at the Swissotel, Beijing; The 2nd China Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Products and Technology Exhibition was held on June 1-3, 2007 in Beijing at the National Agricultural Exhibition Hall; and The 2007 China International Solar Energy and Photovoltaic Engineering Exhibition was held at the Beijing International Exhibition Center on June 25-29, 2007. The sponsors of the exhibition included the Asia Renewable Energy Association, the China Energy Enterprises Management Association and the China Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Enterprise Association.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, of a total of more than 600 registered CDM Projects worldwide through mid-April 2007, there are now 70 registered CDM projects in China. The pace of Chinese CDM project registration is accelerating; prior to the beginning of 2007 China had a total of 34 registered CDM projects, yet to date in 2007 another 36 Chinese CDM projects have been registered.
The Shanghai Power Transmission and Distribution Joint Stock Company, a subsidiary of the Shanghai Electric and Gas Group Joint Stock Company entered into a joint venture agreement with Canada’s Xantrex Technology, Inc, to build a factory to design, manufacture and sell solar and wind power electric and gas electronics products. The new company is in the final stages of the approval process.
According to Theo Ramborst, the General Manager and CEO of Bosch Rexroth (China) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Bosch Group AG, a world leader in controls, transmission and machine hydraulics manufacturing, Bosch Rexroth (China) Ltd. contracted 120 million Euros in wind turbo generator business in China in 2006, a 66% increase year-on-year. Responding to the increase in wind energy business in China, Bosch Rexroth (China) Ltd. invested 280 million Yuan in October 2006 in plant expansions in Beijing and Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. Earlier in 2006 Bosch Rexroth started up its Shanghai Jinqiao (Golden Bridge) factory, which is involved in the manufacture, installation, distribution and service of transmission and control parts and systems; the Shanghai facility will also serve as Bosch’s principal center for technology, personnel and distribution in China.
According to China's "Energy Blue Paper" recently written by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the average rate of recovery of coal from mining in China is only 30%, less than one-half the rate of recovery throughout the world; the rate of recovery of coal resources in the U.S., Australia, Germany and Canada is ~80%. The rate of recovery of coal from mining in Shanxi Province, China’s largest source of coal is approximately 40%, though the rate of recovery of village and township coal mines in Shanxi Province is only 10%-20%. Cumulatively over the course of the past 20 years (1980-2000) China has wasted upwards of 28 billion MT of coal. The same causes for a low rate of recovery in coal mining - that extraction methods are backwards - lead to safety problems in China’s coal mining sector. Another reason for the low rate of recovery is that the majority of extraction comes from small scale mining; of the 346.9 billion MT of coal extracted by China, only 98 billion MT has come from large or mid-sized mines while 250 billion MT are extracted from small mines. Based on coal production in 2005 of 2.19 billion MT and a current rate of recovery of 30%, if China were able to double its rate of recovery it would save approximately 3.5 billion MT of coal.
On April 13, 2007, the Department of Science, Technology and Education of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture hosted the Asian regional workshop on adaptation to climate change organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Climate change will affect Asian countries in different but consistently negative ways. Temperate regions will experience changes in boreal forest cover, while vanishing mountain glaciers will cause problems such as water shortages and increased risks of glacial lake flooding. Coastal zones are under increasing risk from sea level rises as well as pollution and overexploitation of natural resources. In 2006 in China storms, floods, heat and drought killed more than 2700 people; effects ranged from drought in the southwest of China, which were the worst since records began to be kept in the late 19th century, to floods and typhoons in central and southeastern China. The weather events in China in 2006 were seen to be a prelude to weather patterns likely to become more common due to global warming. Topics discussed by representatives of Asian countries and developed countries, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations, included vulnerability assessments, implementing adaptation actions in various sectors of the economy and in specific geographical areas, such as coastal and mountainous regions.
Based on a recently completed survey in 2007, the Standardization Administration of China plans to further develop and improve standards for conservation and comprehensive utilization of natural resources in the following areas: energy, water, wood and land conservation, development of renewable energy, the comprehensive utilization of mineral resources, recovery, recycling and reuse of scrap materials and clean production.
Chinese energy experts are estimating that by 2050 the percentage of China’s energy requirements that are satisfied by coal fired plants will have declined to 30-50% of total energy consumption and that the remaining 50-70% will be provided by a combination of oil, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, biomass and other renewable energy sources.
Since June 2006 when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Shenhua Group's coal liquefaction project and expressed that coal-to-liquids production was one important part of China's energy security, there have been many new ‘coal to oil’ projects announced by many large coal producing provinces and cities. As of the end of 2006 there will 88 methyl alcohol projects planned; the total capacity of these projects is 48.5 million tpy. If all of these projects are built, by 2010 output of methyl alcohol will reach 60 million tpy. This development rush to build coal to oil projects is giving rise to concerns about a new round of wasteful development and the unintended consequences of such rapid development; these include wasteful extraction of coal, excessive use of water (this process requires 10 MT of water for every MT of oil produced), and likely increases in the price of coal.
According to a study conducted by the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission on the economic circumstances of China’s crude oil and chemical industry as of 2007, in recent years China has wasted an average of 400 million MT of coal equivalents per year. In 2006 China consumed a total of 2.46 billion MT coal equivalents, up from 1.4 billion MT of coal equivalents consumed nationwide in 2000. With energy consumption increasing at the rate of 10%/year, in the last 5 years total energy consumption has exceeded the combined amount of energy consumption over the previous 20 years. According to Dai Yande, the chairman of the Energy Research Institute of the NDRC, while continued high consumption of energy is unavoidable, China must take steps to change the form of its economic growth and increase substantially the energy efficiency of Chinese industry and society generally. Among other things China should find new points of economic development that moves China away from being the "World’s Factory" and improves energy efficiency. China also must avoid unnecessary waste, foster a sustainable economy and encourage renewable energy sources to reduce China’s reliance on petrochemical energy resources.
In 2006 a total of 2.8344 trillion kwh of electricity was generated in China from an installed base of 622000 MW of power generating capacity; in 2006 alone an additional 105000 MW of installed capacity came on line in China. Experts estimate that another 100,000 MW of newly installed electric power generating capacity will again come on-line in 2007, but that 2006 probably was the high water mark for electric power capacity development in China.
China and Russia (see Energy policy of Russia) are in talks to link their electric power networks so that China can purchase power from Russia’s far east region to supply China’s northeast (Dongbei). The benefits for China of importing power from neighboring countries include conserving domestic resources, lowering energy consumption, lessening China’s dependence on imported oil (80%-90% of which must be shipped through unsafe waters) and reducing pollution discharge. China already has begun to build a 1000 Kv high-tension demonstration project and a 800 Kv direct power transmission project and after 2010 China will have a long distance high tension, high capacity transmission line for international transmission of electric power. China also is considering connecting its power transmission lines with Mongolia and other former Soviet states that border China and specialists predict that by the year 2020 more than 4 trillion kwh of power will be transmitted into China from neighboring states. In that year China is expected to produce 250 million MT of crude oil and be required to import approximately 350 million MT of crude oil, a reliance on exports of 60%. If China is able to import 620 billion kwh of power from neighbors, it will be able to reduce crude oil imports by 100 million MT. By importing electric from four or five neighboring countries China will not only reduce its dependence on imported crude oil, but also will enhance energy security by diversifying its foreign energy sources, making China less vulnerable to disruptions in supply.
In 2007, transportation’s share of crude oil consumption in China is approximately 35%, but that by 2020 consumption of crude oil for transportation purposes will have increased to 50% of total crude oil consumption.