At the same time countries such as Iran proclaim nuclear energy development is “a matter of national pride”, China is evolving practical approaches to a new Asian power paradigm. While not yet abandoning fission and thermal plants, burning over 3.5 billion tons of coal in 2012, and exploring oxymoronic “synthetic natural” gas-i.e. “sin gas”, China is the first developed nation to comprehend and act upon the tightly interwoven environmental true costs of conventional electrical generation, fuel processing, and food production.
This was neatly showcased at September’s second annual WCO World Congress of Ocean, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. Noted was use of the singular “Ocean” in cognizance of our connected water world.
The multi-track conference convened international experts presenting seemingly diverse topics about mariculture, water desalination, and hydrogen gas production, green shipping/ship construction techniques, environmentally compatible bio growth mitigation, and ocean renewable energy.
Afterward, the Zhoushan province government invited eleven participants to give abbreviated presentations, meet with state representatives, and tour the Zhoushan Archipelago NAIZ New Area Industrial Zone. It is China’s fourth such district, and a free trade zone, following the establishment of Pudong NAIZ in Shanghai Municipality, Binhai NAIZ in Tianjin, and Liangjiang NAIZ in Chongqing.
It is also the first zone solely concentrating on oceanic industry devoted to expanding an international marine economy. Like much of China’s proactive planning for the future, the very large, deep water main island facility seems presently in want of only more human creativity.
The infrastructure is there. Not included in the tour, another portion resides on the smaller island of Qushan District. Over 300 billion Yuan has been invested in just three years and, from an available pool of 100 million Yuan, government financial and tax incentives may provide 1.5 - 3 million Yuan to individual technology investments.
Six major ocean industry development themes have emerged, coincidentally, aligning most WCO topics: marine electronics, marine chemicals including pharmaceuticals and health care products, mineral resources, marine energy, water desalination, and environmental protection equipment or other high end manufacturing.
The province is home to 30 top level shipyards and related marine industry clusters. Potential is great and the facility will certainly “fill-in” over a relatively near term.
Having nearly 1,400 islands within its domain, a specific, inspirational goal is construction of an offshore “garden city” and not difficult to imagine is using indigenous wave energy to support such foresight and help power the islands.
Additional expertise is conveniently available through cooperative projects with nearby Ocean University. It predominantly concentrates on marine ecology and farming, marine acoustics, fluid dynamics, tidal energy, and wave energy.
The school can possibly have large role in producing Environmental Impact Assessments and Statements for China’s deployment of marine renewable energy projects.
Across Hangzhou Bay, the Shanghai free trade zone is also vying for new domestic and foreign investment. Along with broad desire to invigorate these promising sectors, regional competition must care to avoid redundancy and find balanced cooperation.
The crossroad brightly shines on a practical, clean energy future that respects and protects China’s bounteous ocean resources.
The author was Wave Power Technologies and Application session chair/speaker at World Congress of Ocean, 23-25 September, Hangzhou, China
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Power. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Foerd Ames is the founder of Ocean Wave Energy Company (OWECO). He is also a holder of several patents for ocean wave energy that are highly regarded and recognized by different organizations in US.