China Approves Renewable Energy Zone in Zhangjiakou City

The Development Plan for the Renewable Energy Demonstration Zone in Zhangjiakou City (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Plan’) has been approved by the State Council of China, and issued by National Development and Reform Commission on 28 July, 2015, which is the country's first renewable energy pilot zone.

As Beijing's partner in the 2022 Winter Olympic, Zhangjiakou City is one of the most abundant region in wind and solar resources in North China, also an important biological conservation area of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and one of the national planning new energy base.

According to the Plan, by 2020, 55% of the power consumption in the demonstration zone will come from renewable energy. All urban public transport, 40% of the urban residents’ power consumption, and half of the commercial and public buildings power consumption will be generated from renewable energy. In addition, about 40% of the industrial companies will realize zero carbon emissions. By 2020, the city's installed capacity of renewable energy is set to reach 20 million kilowatts, with an annual power generation capacity of 40 billion kWh.

The Plan predicts that the newly industry clustering, represented by renewable energy, will become a new growth pillar. The value-added output of emerging industries in Zhangjiakou, including new energy, big data, new material and renewable energies, will rise to 15% of its local GDP in 2020 and 30% by 2030.

Clouds over China’s Solar Power Industry

The recent turmoil in China’s stock market has sent shockwaves through the country’s corporate sector, including its mighty solar power industry which in recent years has grown to dominate the world market.

Due to the rout in China’s stock market, expansion of the solar-panel industry is under threat. Although China is the world’s biggest producer of solar panels by far, the solar power industry could become a victim of its own success. Some companies have lost half their share value and investors have pulled back. For example, Chinese company Suntech, which was at one time the world’s biggest manufacturer, went bust in 2013.

Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, a Chinese company which is a world leader in the manufacture of solar products, lost half its share value amid concerns about its corporate structure and worries of over-capacity and falling profit margins in the solar market earlier this year.

While China’s dominance of the solar market has led to drop global prices, forcing companies in other nations to follow suit, the industry is not in a healthy state. One of the damaging side effects of China’s dominance of the solar market is that production has tended to stick to old technologies and innovation in the industry has been stifled.

Chinese Rules Eased on Imports of Crude Oil

In order to carrying out the spirit of Several Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Promoting the Growth Stabilization and Structural Adjustment of Imports and Exports, and Several Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Supporting the Steady Growth of Foreign Business, China gave private refineries the green light to import crude oil by issuing the Notice of the Ministry of Commerce on the Work Relating to the Application Qualification for Non-state Trading Importation of Processing Enterprises of Crude Oil on 23 July 2015 (hereinafter referred to as ‘new rules’), which opened up a heavily monopolized sector.

The new rules set up a series of preconditions for qualifying importation of crude oil.

According to new rules, to qualify non-state companies must have an annual refining capacity of more than 2 million tons and meet efficiency and environmental standards. They should also have storage capacity for at least 300,000 tons of crude, with terminals that can handle more than 50,000 tons.

China is one of the world’s largest oil buyers, with nearly 60% of its consumption coming from imports. Industry analysis indicates that it is a part of supporting policies of oil industry reformation in 2015. It means that government further opens the door for private enterprises to import crude oil. It’s also benefit for enterprises owning oil and gas resources overseas. Up to 23 July 2015, there are 23 enterprises approved by the Ministry of Commerce having gotten importation qualification of crude oil, half among which are state-owned enterprises. Crude oil imports are dominated by state-run giants such as Sinopec, CNPC and CNOOC.

China, US Seek 'Clean Coal' Agreement as Industry Struggles

Shi Yubo, vice administrator of China National Energy, and Christopher Smith, assistant energy secretary of U.S, initialled an agreement to increase collaboration between the two countries to develop technologies that capture greenhouse gases produced from burning coal during the ceremony in Billings, Mont on 25 August 2015.

The agreement would allow the two nations to share their results as they refine technologies to capture the greenhouse gases produced from burning coal, said Smith. Terms of the deal were finalized late Tuesday. Officials said it would be signed at a later date.

China leads the world in coal use. It produces and consumes about 4 billion tons annually, four times as much as in the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. coal industry has suffered a beating in recent months, with major mining companies going bankrupt. Also, cheap natural gas is squeezing out demand for coal, and Obama has made reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants a key component of his climate policy.

The interactions between U.S. agency and its Chinese counterpart created opportunities for companies from both countries to come together on ways to meet ambitious plans to cut emissions.