Project Management Institute

Beyond the carbon peak

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A smoggy day in Shanghai

China is getting serious about greenhouse gases. As part of its November 2014 climate deal with the United States, the country agreed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and boost green energy output to 20 percent within the same timeline. This means deploying 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of low-carbon energy—an amount roughly equivalent to the United States’ entire current electric grid.

Céline Bak, president of Analytica Advisors in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and a consultant on clean energy to organizations operating in China, estimates the deal will spur 5,000 to 10,000 clean-energy projects throughout China's provinces. Growth in renewable energy so far has varied greatly from province to province, but Ms. Bak predicts that as a result of this deal, “deployments will occur much more evenly across the country.”

While China grapples with the challenges of launching a massive clean-energy portfolio, the United States is expected to rely largely on natural-gas expansion and efficiency projects that reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

“Notably, the United States did not set a national clean-energy target, though many states have their own renewable portfolio standards,” says Arthur Yip, energy systems engineer at The Breakthrough Institute, Oakland, California, USA, an environmental think tank. Instead it will aim to cut its net greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent of 2005 levels within 10 years, requiring it to double the current pace of carbon-emission reduction. While wind turbines and utility-scale solar projects are expected to expand dramatically in the coming years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory impact analysis of the clean power plan suggests the near-term focus will remain on cleaning up existing fossil fuel production.

China agreed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and boost green energy output to 20 percent within the same timeline.

 

In contrast, China will focus on diversifying its energy portfolio. The nation's Energy Development Strategy Action Plan, or EDSAP, includes specific targets for each power source, including coal, natural gas, wind, solar and biomass. Nuclear and hydropower will also be two significant components of the country's low-carbon strategy.

“China has devoted massive resources into developing supply chains and human capital in preparation for rolling out nuclear,” Mr. Yip says. “China's targeted nuclear deployment, while unprecedented domestically, is not unimaginable in an international context.”

But these large-scale projects come with significant risk. Special training and certification is required for the construction of nuclear power plants, which have strict safety standards and specifications for the installation of equipment. That means China will need a specialized labor force and on-site engineers who can implement design changes along the way.

China will also have to overcome opposition from the industrial sector, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, China, told The Guardian.

“China's energy is very much focused on coal, and the economy is very focused on heavy industry, which is carbon-intensive, so restructuring won't be easy. But I think that the momentum generated to solve the local air pollution problem is a push for such a commitment,” he said.

 

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“Restructuring won't be easy. But I think that the momentum generated to solve the local air pollution problem is a push for such a commitment.”

—Ma Jun, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Beijing, China to The Guardian

A Fertile Project Landscape

With fewer organizations delaying or canceling projects, things are looking up for practitioners.

More than five years after the global economy bottomed out, there's good reason for optimism in the project management community. In the final quarter of 2014, the percentage of organizations that canceled or delayed projects, or laid off full- or part-time project managers, was at its lowest level since PMI began tracking these indicators in 2009.

FEWER RED LIGHTS

In the fourth quarter of 2014, only 33 percent of project management leaders and practitioners said their organization had canceled or delayed a project due to economic conditions.

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FEWER PINK SLIPS

In the fourth quarter of 2014, just 17 percent of project management leaders and practitioners said their organization had laid off a part- or full-time project manager due to economic conditions.

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Source: PMI Economic Snapshot Survey, which is sent to a random global sample of 2,000 members and credential holders on a quarterly basis

 

Though its aims may seem ambitious, China has already been working toward this milestone for more than a decade. The country is the world's leader in renewable energy and has made major investments in nuclear plants and solar projects. Last year alone, China was projected to build four times as much wind power as installed in all of Denmark, a wind energy pioneer. And from 2008 to 2035, China's hydropower generation is projected to double.

“China absolutely has the capacity to build its ability to manage those projects,” Ms. Bak says. “China's decade of 9-plus percent annual GDP growth was not an accident. It was the result of performance management and project management in a very detailed, delegated and decentralized way.” —Ambreen Ali

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK MAY 2015 WWW.PMI.ORG
MAY 2015 PM NETWORK

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