China is in many respects unique. The largest country in the world and a top energy producer and consumer, it has remarkably grown from having no renewable energy projects a decade ago to being the world leader in most renewable technologies today. It also is the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, and investment in renewable energy is one of its best options for reducing emissions. Its renewable energy projects thus have been placed first and at greatest length in this book. With the largest number, size and variety of renewable energy projects, China presents good examples both of very successful and potentially unsuccessful projects, including those with high risks of failure. Resolving China’s energy and related environmental problems also presents a tremendous quandary, however. China has been experiencing phenomenal economic growth. Even though its growth has slowed from more than 10 percent to around 7 percent a year, it takes an enormous amount of energy to achieve and maintain such growth rates, and China’s only significant domestic fuel resource is coal, the most polluting fuel and that which produces the greatest greenhouse gas emissions. China also must feed, clothe, house, employ and otherwise maintain a staggering population of 1.35 billion people. Before it opened up its economy to markets, China used to be desperately poor and its people suffered frequent devastating floods and famines.
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