Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 03:06 PM EDT

China Shames U.S., Runs Entire Province on Renewable Energy for 7 Days

Jun 29, 2017 12:50 PM EDT

Xi Jinping
(Photo : Michael Terner via Flickr)

China has recently taken a more decisive lead in the world of renewable energy.

With the United States backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement, China has shown just how much can be done without coal and natural gas. Last week China demonstrated how viable a total switch to a renewable energy grid can be. The Chinese ran an entire province of more than 5 million citizens on completely renewable energy for 7 days. 

Between June 17 and 23, the Chinese province of Qinghai survived entirely on 100% renewable energy, incuding solar, wind and hydro power. The operation was a trial conducted by the State Grid Corporation of China to demonstrate that fossil fuels are not needed to meet energy needs. 

"Being the first trial of this kind in the country and a major step in the transformation of energy supply, it will be of great importance in promoting the use of clean energy in China in a sustainable and effective way," said Quan Shenming, general manager of Qinghai Electric Power Corporation.

During the trial, electricity use amounted to 1.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), which would have required about 535,000 tons of coal. About 72 percent of the energy came from hydro power with the rest coming from wind and solar power.

The successful test trial of a grid being run on renewable energy flies in the face of what Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and other conservatives have claimed. Many skeptics of renewable energy claim that the grid cannot be run on renewable alone and that coal is needed to provide the "baseload" of power to the grid. Perry has asked for a study to show how much the grid needs a "baseload" that is supplied by coal and natural gas.

"I've asked the staff of the Department of Energy to undertake a critical review of regulatory burdens placed by the previous administration on baseload generators," Perry said. "Baseload power is critical to a well-functioning grid. ... But over the last several years, grid experts have expressed concern about the erosion of critical baseload resources." 

Perry said that under his leadership, the Department of Energy will do what it can to ensure baseload generating capacity, such as coal and nuclear power, "is not tossed aside in the name of some political favorite."

It is of course Perry and several other conservative politicians who are playing political favorites because they are in the pocket of big oil -- the reason that they heap scorn on renewable. Renewable energy competes with big oil and takes money from Perry's most ardent political supporters. Renewable energy is cheap and produces no carbon. It is more efficient, cleaner and is clearly the future of energy.

Perry contends that the power grid is actually being put in peril because of its reliance on renewable, a statement immediately undercut by Colette Honorable, a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Honorable said that the introduction of greater amounts of renewable energy has "absolutely not" harmed grid reliability. 

It is a sad day in America when we have to take enviromental advice from the Chinese. We used to lead the world in the renewable energy race. Now it seems that we have fallen behind and lack even the desire to catch up. 

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