Vice Mayor from Inner Mongolia visits Anchorage, talks with REAP about renewable energy
January 27, 2010
A hearty welcome and a 致謝 (thankyou) to Vice Mayor Bao Chongming from Ordos, Inner Mongolia, who was in Alaska this week and met Tuesday with REAP to talk about renewable energy. Ordos, which is part of China, was recently featured in a New York Times story about the greening of China and because of plans there to build the world’s biggest plant to convert sunlight to electricity as part of a 12-gigawatt wind, solar and biomass power-generating zone.
Bao, who spoke through a translator, lives in a region rich in coal and natural gas reserves. (The area claims one sixth of China’s known coal reserves.) But he said they are moving aggressively toward renewable energy because of concerns about pollution and because they see the writing on the wall – that development and demand for power will outstrip even their expansive supply of fossil fuels. Bao said residents in Ordos already use many types of renewable energy (Solar is particularly plentiful with an average of 300 sunny days a year). The region’s herding families, who have vast spreads, rely on individual solar and wind power systems, he said. In towns, they burn municipal trash and biomass from willows to generate heat and electricity.
Bao was particularly interested in hearing about Alaska’s renewable energy efforts, as well as our knowledge about and experience with biomass and energy storage systems. REAP Executive Director Chris Rose told him about Alaska’s many resources from geothermal to tidal to wind; Unisea’s work in Dutch Harbor burning fish oil leftover from processing to produce electricity; and ongoing efforts to improve energy storage systems. He also noted Alaska’s emerging status as a world leader in wind-diesel hybrid energy systems that supply power through a melding of diesel engines and wind turbines. Alaska is on the leading edge of developing and improving these systems with more than 10 already installed in villages around the state. The systems are insulating the villages against spikes in diesel prices, and, at the same time, attracting great interest because of their potential for use in places throughout the developing world.
The meeting ended with reciprocal invitations to travel to Ordos and for Vice Mayor Bao to return trip to visit Alaska in the summertime. Good luck to Vice Mayor Bao, and to fellow travelers – Wai Moy and Jimmy Zhao – on the rest of their journey.