Access to electricity is the key to developing a country into a modern state with the potential to grow a large, consumer driven middle class.
Poverty reduction is also linked to access to electricity.
In fact, to reduce poverty, China has introduced electricity access to over 900 million rural residents in over 50 years and has achieved an electricity access rate of as high as 98%. Source: Stanford.edu
August 15, 2010
In 1949 when the People’s Republic (PRC) was founded, there were only 33 small hydropower stations in rural China, with a total installed capacity of 3.63 megawatts, and total electricity consumption in rural areas was 20 million kilowatts. Today, there are thousands of hydropower stations, and the PRC has more than any country on the earth.
In 1979, China’s Xinhua state run news agency reported a serious electric power shortage. The agency said China produced about 150,000 million kilowatts of electricity a year and ranked about seventh among the world’s electric energy producers.
In a virtual conversation with several others at Understanding China, One Blog at a Time, hosted by an anonymous American working (or once worked) in China, an incident at a McDonalds in China of a baby defecating in a washbasin is mentioned.
This led to a series of comments where Ontario Mike says he is “sick of hearing of China…” or Omar Tabee who said, “China has one of the most barbaric and backwards histories mankind has known.”
Tabee’s statement was one of the most ignorant I’ve read since writing this Blog. Historical facts say otherwise. For more than two thousand years until the 19th century, China was the most powerful, wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation on the earth. Then in about a century, the West shot ahead of China during the industrial revolution.
My comments, which Ontario Mike called “long winded”, were an attempt to explain why China is the way it is and some of its history. Without knowing a country’s history, you cannot fairly judge that country, its government or its people.
In May 2010, I wrote a series of five posts about the importance of electricity bringing China into the modern world.
In fact, in 1952, China’s electrical generating capacity was almost nonexistent and most of the people in China lived as they have for millennia—some still do.
In China’s Electric Challenge,I wrote about what it would take to bring electricity to China’s 1.3 billion people and how difficult that task was going to be. It wasn’t until after Mao’s death in 1976 that China seriously started building electrical power plants and extending the grid. The first step was to provide electricity to urban China, which had a population larger than the United States and China did it faster than the US did a century earlier.
Then in Electricity is the Key, I posted a chart showing the electrical generation projections for China from 2010 to 2030 and mentioned the gap in living standards between rural and urban China was due to the lack of electricity and paved roads in remote areas far from urban centers.
In VOLTING all of Chinainto the 21st Century, I compared China to the United States. I also wrote of China’s plans to extend the grid to rural China until China’s night sky looked like America at night, and I included photos so readers could see the difference between the US and China.
As a further comparison, I wrote America Electrified(a two part series) that covers the time and effort it took to build America’s electrical power grid.
Thomas Edison built the first power plant in 1882. Forty-five years later, the first power grid was established in one state, Pennsylvania, and it wouldn’t be until after World War II and the 1950s that America would extend the electric grid to most of the country.
It took America almost seventy years to build a power grid and China didn’t start building one until the 1980s with about five times the people to hook up. As can be seen from America’s history, modernization takes time.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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For decades, the world watched the American lifestyle through TV and the Internet. Now, the citizens of nations like China and India want the same lifestyle. The downside is that having 1.3 billion people living like Americans means five times the pollution America produces.
It isn’t as if China is not doing what it can to go green and reduce pollution. The problem is the number of people who expect a better standard of living. China has also promised 700 million rural Chinese that the electric grid is coming their way and along with it electricity-dependent home appliances. Source: Huffington Post
Even with inefficient factories, like Guangzhou Steel, being closed and replacing more than a thousand older coal-burning power plants (like those still used in the US), China worries that the demand by Chinese consumers will foil China’s goals to reduce carbon emissions. Source: New York Times
If Americans are unwilling to give up their energy dependent lifestyles, why should the Chinese do without?
Bloomberg reported that China Datang Corp has started construction on a rooftop solar power plant in Jiangsu province as another step in China’s goals to cut carbon emssions. Plans are for this power plant to generate 6.2 gigawatt hours of power reducing the need for coal-powered generating plants.
This plant is not the only one under construction. China is already the world’s leading producer of solar panels, and China is also building a 2,000-megawatt project in the Mongolian desert, which is planned for completion in 2019, and may be the largest solar power facility on the globe. Along with solar power, China plans to install 100 gigawatts of wind power by 2020. Source: World Changing