I am bringing some very beautiful pictures to the 8th Angkor Photo Festival that runs from December 1-8. They are pictures of wind turbines from different parts of China. Either in the middle of the desert in northwestern China, or along the southeastern coast line, or even right by the lakes overlooking people's houses. These giants stand there quietly yet proudly turning and churning, sending clean energy to people's houses and hungry industries.
They represent the 50,000 wind turbines all over China, with almost each province having its own wind farms. With no doubt, China is the largest producer of wind turbines, and China has the world's largest installed wind power capacity.
In 2011 alone, thanks to these giants, China, as the world's largest climate polluter, avoided burning at least 22 million tons of dirty coal and consequently the emission of at least 70 million tons of carbon dioxide!
However, currently these giants are not happy because some of them are just standing around idly, not being called for or mobilized to do more! Wind power shares only 1.5% of China's total electricity output, and we all, especially China's economy planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the key player the State Grid, know there is much more these giants can do.
"Beautiful China" became the new "hot word" on November 8, 2012, when President Hu Jintao gave his opening speech at the 18th congress of the Communist Party of China. He pictured a beautiful China that launches an energy revolution welcoming low-carbon industries, high energy efficiency, and strong development of renewable energy.
This is a concept or a dream, which in contrast, makes today's reality even more appalling. The reality is that coal is still the main source of energy. While providing around 70% of China's electricity, coal is one of the major source for air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. It is taking precious water away from sheep and horses, it is emptying mountains on which pagodas and temples that have survived 2000 years are now collapsing, and it is also sending people into hospitals with lung cancer or mercury poison.
The grid system in China is in urgent need of improvement to be able to bring wind power generated by these beautiful giants in these corners to millions of households and industries.
A beautiful China will have to become a smart China, empowered by these giants who are ready. A beautiful China will be one that doesn't exist only in these pictures I am bringing to Angkor, but also right in our life, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the glaciers on the Himalayas, and in a safe future for our children.
Read Tom's second post: A Chinese environmentalist rediscovers Siem Reap.