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Green Belt and Road Initiative powered by new energy projects
The Condor Cliff and La Barrancosa dam project is now being built by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), a subsidiary of Energy China. [Photo/Xinhua]
When the Chinese government first put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, green development was naturally included in its strategic plan. At the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in April 2019, Chinese leaders again highlighted the importance of building green infrastructure projects that are sustainable and of a high quality.
Zhai Dongsheng, director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Belt and Road Construction Promotion Center said in an interview that one of China's major efforts to realize high-quality development under the BRI is its investment in new energy, such as wind power, solar power, nuclear energy and hydropower.
China's massive capacity for large-scale infrastructure projects suggests that the BRI will be critical to moving global energy consumption beyond fossil fuels.
An analysis from the New Energy Outlook said that by 2050, 50% of the world's energy could come from the sun and wind. And China looks poised to become the world's first clean energy superpower since it can potentially generate 80% of its energy from renewables by 2050, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund.
To this end, many of China's centrally-administered SOEs like the China Energy Engineering Group Co, Ltd (Energy China) are already implementing this new concept of green development, which advocates a low-carbon and sustainable mode of production.
Dubbed the "world's southernmost hydropower project", the Condor Cliff and La Barrancosa dam project is now being built by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), a subsidiary of Energy China. As the largest China-Latin-American cooperation project and the largest overseas power investment project by a Chinese company, the hydropower station project boasts a huge investment of around US$5 billion.
Upon completion, it will be able to boost the nation's power supply by 6.5% with an estimated annual electricity production of 4.95 billion kilowatts per hour, which will satisfy the energy demands of 1.5 million local households. The project will also help Argentina save about US$1.1 billion in oil imports and create nearly 20,000 jobs for locals. The BRI is playing an instrumental role in removing the country's primary bottleneck that impedes further industrialization.
During his visit to the hydropower station this January, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri said the project will be able to significantly ease Argentina's energy burden. He added that he hoped China and Argentina would sincerely cooperate with each other to cultivate more talents in Argentina.
According to Wang Jianping, chairman of Energy China, the project went through a two-year-long environmental impact assessment to avoid potential negative ecological impact on the local environment.
"We hope to push forward our key technical standards in energy construction projects to the participating countries, and provide a Chinese approach to high-quality and sustainable development," he said.
Besides imparting these Chinese standards to its partner countries, what helps Chinese new energy companies go global also lies in technology innovation and finance support.
JinkoSolar, a solar panel manufacturer, has taken advantage of the new opportunities under the BRI and deployed their strategies for overseas markets by setting up overseas research centers.
Qian Jing, vice president of JinkoSolar, at the Belt and Road CEO conference in Beijing on April 25, 2019. [Photo by Cui Can/China.org.cn]
Qian Jing, vice president of JinkoSolar, told China.org.cn that her company has built a solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Malaysia, which is capable of manufacturing 3 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and 2.5 GW of solar modules. The company intends to invest about US$200 million to build a PV research center.
"We believe that the BRI not only serves as a platform for exporting products, but is also an opportunity for Chinese companies to share their advanced technology and valuable experiences with their counterparts along the Belt and Road," Qian said, adding that her company will be the first Chinese PV company to set up an overseas research center. She explained that the aims of building the research center are to help local companies integrate into global supply, industry and value chains for better and more interconnected development.
However, a huge financing gap still exists in the construction of green infrastructure. The World Bank estimates that an extra annual investment of US$80 billion is needed to achieve the goal of low-carbon energy transformation by 2030.
Iason Rousopoulos (L3), deputy chief financial officer of ADMIE at the deal signing ceremony of the Belt and Road CEO conference held in Beijing on April 25, 2019. [Photo courtesy of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade]
Iason Rousopoulos, deputy chief financial officer of Greece's power grid operator ADMIE, said the BRI provides the opportunity for countries along the Belt and Road to take advantage of key financial institutions like the China Development Bank, to promote investment towards the construction of infrastructure with low carbon emissions.
In 2016, the State Grid Corp of China signed a deal to purchase a 24% stake in Greece's ADMIE, a move to further extend its international reach.