Chapter 12 China’s Military Development of Alternative Energy
Under the pressure of the international outcry in recent years, China often showcases its activities in carbon reduction and the development of renewable energy. It has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 after emissions peak in 2030 and indicated that fossil fuels would account for more than 50% of its energy mix at the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan. On top of its national targets, the military use of alternative energy has the benefit of better energy flexibility and greater battlefield survivability for field operations. In the process of stepping up invasive moves, China has noticed that traditional energy remains the military mainstay, while the increase in consumption and difficulty in transportation to remote areas cause problems in strategy security. The PLA announced in March 2021 the commencement of its first national-level on-site energy demonstration project in the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia. Wind and solar will be its main power sources, supported with smart grids and storage and backup electricity from the grids and diesel generation.
Other than the reduction in the reliance on fossil fuels and the enhancement of its application of renewable energy, the ambition to combine new types of weaponry, AI, big data, and cloud computing and to develop smart military energy sits behind China’s transformation in the military energy transition. The bulletin of the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in October 2020 declared China’s intention to realize the centenary goal for its military establishment in 2027 by accelerating the mechanization, informatization, and smartization of its national defense equipment. With the approach of the Military-Civil Fusion, industries, military schools, and key universities develop joint R&D teams and deploy smart energy networks in military bases in remote mountains and on islands. The purpose of China’s military energy transformation is to complement equipment revamps and renewals and boost the PLA’s new warfare capabilities. Compared to the use of fossil fuels, the PLA’s current scale in the use of renewable and low-carbon energy is not big. Nonetheless, it is necessary to keep an eye on the development, achievements, and the trend of moving forward.
Hai-ching Yu, “PLA’s First National-level on-site Energy Demonstration Project Comes Online,” Chinese People’s Liberation Army Daily, March 21, 2021, https://reurl.cc/aN5vo7.
Chiang Chang, “Able to Think and Decide, Military Energy is Surely Getting Smarter,” Science and Technolo- gy Daily, March 19, 2021, https://reurl.cc/6DajvZ.
Xinhua News Agency, “(release under authorization) Bulletin of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,” Xinhua Net, October 29, 2020, https://reurl.cc/95Zk3O.
Wei Liu, Deng-yue Wang, “Prospect of New Energy Applications for Military Purposes,” China Teachers, February 6, 2021, Cited from chinaqking.com, https://reurl.cc/NZr4vn.