Alternative energy production in China
Given China's environmental record most people are shocked to learn that the country is the world's leading producer of renewable energy. The majority of that comes from hydroelectricity which is far to widely used to be considered alternative energy but it does share most of the characteristics. Over the last few years there has been a massive effort on the part of China to produce more hydroelectricity so that they can reduce their dependence on coal. The country has lots of rivers so it is a good option, although there is of course some opposition to the projects, especially the massive ones like the Three Gorges Dam.
Another surprising statistic is that China is the world's leading user of solar power. Admittedly the amount used represents only a small amount of the total energy that China produces but it is significant. More importantly the government views solar power as an area where China can be a world leader since they are already the leading producer of solar panels. This combined with a desire to reduce their dependence on foreign energy and to improve their environmental record has meant that large sums of money have been spent on research and development of solar power in China.
Another area where China is hoping to become a world leader is in wind power. China has potentially the most wind resources in the world although they are currently only taking advantage of them in a limited way. There are however plans to build large wind farms off of the coast of the country. This would help China solve and important issue when it comes to energy production. Currently most of the population are located a long way from where coal is mined and hydroelectricity is produced. Power transmission over long distances is a problem so being able to produce power on the coasts where a lot of people live can help to solve that.
Over the last few years China has put a considerable amount of resources into biofuels and has come to rely fairly heavily on them. This has started to become controversial however as there are many people in the country still who struggle to get enough to eat. The rapid rise in food prices over the last few years has also become an issue. The result is that China is now looking at other alternatives in place of biofuels.
One potential area of alternative power for China is geothermal. There are large numbers of hot springs in China and they are distributed widely around the country. The government has viewed these as potential energy resources for years but are currently only using them on a very limited basis. However as the search for alternative fuels continues this will probably change and more and more thermal plants will be brought online.