The head of states of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have met for the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Topics on the agenda were energy, manufacturing, technology, industrializations, and more. But most importantly, deals were being made.
China will be giving US$14.7 billion in investments to South Africa for its advancement. The partnerships across the nations are all part of the BRICS Partnership for the New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR). On top of this, South Africa’s railway and energy utility will be given US$2.8 billion in Chinese loans to assist these state-owned entities overcome the short-comings they have faced in the last few years.
The Summit is an important event for those countries involved as they look to improve the conditions in their countries through technological advancement. President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his official remarks at the BRICS Business Forum in Sandton on Wednesday 25 June 2018 said:
“Quantum leaps in technology and innovation present enormous opportunities for growth, development and human progress.”
President of China, Xi Jinping, is making the deals with these affiliated nations to ensure his Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continues revitalizing China.
The initiative involves a US$1 trillion plan to revolutionize manufacturing and construction in China and foreign investment is extremely important; 60 percent of the money to be generated will be coming from outside of China.
A (clean) change is coming
A positive spinoff of the current investments into manufacturing and industrialization in China has driven down the costs of solar panels. They are embracing solar in areas where pollution is posing a health risk to the people of China.
In densely populated cities, governments are realizing they have to turn the tide on fossil fuel technologies...and quickly. To confront the pollution generated by public transport China has invested in Battery-electric buses (BEBs).
According to Vox, buses accounted for 20% of the air pollution in Shenzhen, China, despite accounting for only 0.5% of the vehicles. Since 2012, all 16,359 buses in Shenzhen have become electric. Not surprisingly, since 2016 the speed at which the electrification has occurred has sped up - as the world calls for cleaner, more renewable forms of powering the world.
The electric buses ensure that 12 million people go from Point A to Point B every day. In 2017 Shenzhen became the world’s first city with an all-electric bus fleet. The city wants the same to happen to their fleet of taxis. This would mean converting 17,000 taxis - their goal is to have this completed by 2020.
China’s growing population with a large number of people living in urban areas highlighted the problem of using diesel-powered buses in the cities. The Chinese government began by swiftly subsidizing the 350,000 BEB (Battery-electric buses) in 2014/2015.
Subsequently, the buses make up 17 percent of China’s bus fleet.
The vehicle manufacturer behind the majority of the e-Buses is a company named BYD. Founder and chairman of BYD told Strait Times:
“China is now facing large-scale urbanisation, coupled with widespread car ownership. Urbanisation causes us to suffer from big city diseases such as traffic congestion and air pollution. BYD uses electric vehicles to help tackle air pollution and Skyrail to solve the problems of traffic congestion. It’s imperative to carry out the electrification of public transport. China is leading the world in this area.”
Ever since China led the charge on using electric buses, the rest of the world is playing catch up. BYD is hoping to send a fleet of buses to Singapore. Dutch company Arriva has also become one of Europe’s chief suppliers of electric Volvo buses.
China is also lobbying to become a member country of the International Solar Alliance. The alliance, formed upon the signing of the Paris Declaration (the agreement to prevent further global warming), is dedicated to further reducing the cost of clean energy technologies. It seems that China is quite serious about reducing the number of fossil fuel technologies they utilize.
Fabricius, Peter. “China's Xi Promises $14.7bn in Investments in South Africa.” Daily Maverick, Daily Maverick, 25 July 2018, www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-07-24-chinas-xi-promises-14-7bn-in-investments-in-south-africa/.
Roberts, David. “China Made Solar Panels Cheap. Now It's Doing the Same for Electric Buses.” Vox, Vox, 17 Apr. 2018, www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/4/17/17239368/china-investment-solar-electric-buses-cost.
StraitsTimesOnline. “Shenzhen Leads the Way in Switch to Electric Buses.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Jan. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcSu92RfT1s.