China can wave goodbye to the “climate bad boy” image


by Paddy Young

Event Director

European Utility Week

On a recent trip to Paris to meet with utilities and other smart energy stakeholders I was reflecting on the EU and China alliance to tackle climate change. 

Not so long ago I perceived Paris as the city of love, good food and culture. Today my perception of Paris is synonymous with the global climate change movement and a capital that has done well to pip Tallinn to the post and become Europe’s most innovative city. As Paris has transformed its image in my mind, so has China. Known as the “climate bad boy” for many years, China has morphed from a manufacturing, coal-burning giant to an innovative, tech powerhouse championing the fight against CO2 emissions. 

I am not saying it is completely where it needs to be as it is still heavily reliant on coal, but since the global Paris Climate agreement, China has promised to introduce a cap on coal and seek to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The country is advocating the need for a clean energy future and is already the largest producer of renewable energy in the world. 

This ambition is clearly seen in the mind-blowing investment figures. China has stated they will invest US$ 292bn into renewable generation from 2016 -2020, creating more than 13m jobs in the sector. 

Writing these notes it makes me realise the scale of what is happening in the Chinese Energy Sector and how the timing of the first ever China Utility Week in April of this year is significant on a global scale. My aim for China Utility Week will be to create a platform for the sector to come together and sample Chinese innovation, learn about, network and ultimately create opportunities to help accelerate the transition. 

On a recent trip to China, I was blown away by the scale of innovation happening in the Chinese Energy Sector. I walked around the huge Huawei campus in Shenzhen, I met with China Mobile Startups in Chongqing and spoke with Dr. Yin Cao, the International Blockchain Guru; all inspirational parties actively involved in transitioning to renewable generation. Seeing the visibly growing number of EV charging points and meeting with the inspiring Chinese tech giant Alibaba and a number of industrial companies generating their own renewable energy was inspirational. The clean energy revolution is not so much “full steam” ahead, but gathering momentum like the Maglev Electric train hurtling towards downtown Shanghai at 400 km/h.

China has vowed to reduce and finally stop wasting their renewable energy. One way they are doing this is to invest in innovation around their own massive energy storage/ battery companies, the other to promote the power trade market and improve their cross-region power transmission capacity to boost renewable energy consumption and cut its coal dependence.

It is no wonder that energy trading solution providers from around the world are eyeing the market and exploring potential partners with new exchanges opening up - this appears to be yet another opportunity.

Literally, every meeting I had in China, I could not escape the mention of the One Belt One Road Initiative which President Xi Jinping has laid out. Part of this deployment strategy is the connectivity between Eurasian countries and pushing forward China’s next-generation technologies to Europe.  

Currently, Chinese projects and takeovers in the Global energy sector have been steadily growing from US$ 32bn in 2016 to US$ 44bn in 2017. How this flow of Chinese developed products and services will differ from those in the past will be interesting. 

Let me know what you think China will bring Europe and vice versa!

Mail me with your comments or join the conversation on LinkedIn.


by Paddy Young

Event Director

European Utility Week

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