Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 4 years 5 months ago

In phase 0 I narrowed down my topics later on in Phase 1 I explained what I wanted to find out about my topic. Here in Phase three I will be storing some background research used while generating my ten big questions.

Background Information (phase 1) 

China is the largest energy consumer in the world and their best friend right now is coal[1]. Sadly coal is making the air unbreathable and lays dust everywhere after is has been used. Nonetheless China recognized this problem and is taking action, in 2013 they spent $53.6 billion on Renewable energy[1]. For the first time in 2013 renewable energy sources surpassed fossil fuels and nuclear. However in 2008 71% of China's electricity came from coal and only 0.2% came from green energy[2]. Still, China continues to pollute their air and water with coal. On the other hand they are definitely making progress in eliminating energy from coal. The 3 big renewable energy sources in China are water, wind and solar[1].

Wind energy is turned into energy with wind turbines. These enormous machines are usually placed near the ocean, on-shore or of-shore in the ocean. In 2008 China was the fourth largest producer of wind power after the United States, Germany, and Spain. By 2020 China hope to have 100 GW of energy from wind[2]. Wind turbines require a generator that makes their energy comestible for local use. Which is a problem when you have wind turbines in the ocean. Even so the ocean has more wind than anywhere else and wind turbines enable us to transform this energy into electricity. Wind turbines are usually placed/ built in large amounts. It is rather rare to see independent wind turbines, they will usually be found as "wind farms". However wind turbines stay expensive and are not as reliable as solar panels[7].

Solar panels are the most common green energy producers. They can easily be placed on the surface of your roof to provide electricity for almost your whole house. Quite obviously the more sun there is the more energy they produce. This is due to the PV cells that make up a solar panel. The sun light creates an electrical field over the panels which creates electricity[4]. There are various sorts of solar panels you can buy. Some are directly integrated into your roof while others can be placed above a roof, and some are made for solar farms[4]. Solar farms are simply many solar panels put in one place to create a giant field of solar panels which can generate electricity for cities and small towns. For now these are the easiest green energy solution the world has invented nonetheless they are still rather expensive and many people can not afford them.

Dams are the largest green energy solution. The largest one the world has seen is the 3 gorges dam, which sits in the Yangzte river, China. Again China has the biggest something. These huge machines require years of building and millions or thousands of relocations due to the flooding they create. Nevertheless they produce immense amounts of energy and are able to work with little maintenance[5]. They make electricity by letting water flow through  Despite their high rate of production they stay an expensive choice.

People are starting to invent new ways to make green energy such as underwater turbines. These use the current of the ocean to make energy.  In China it is also very common to see solar water heaters.These use the green house effect to trap heat from the sun and then turn it into liquid. More simply they take heat and transfer it to liquid. These new inventions are being developed fast to help the world get out out of it's environmental crisis. 

Information from 3-to-5's 

-Green energy is used mostly for heating water

-Although it seems that green energy is used a lot, the use of green energy is actually minimal.

-buildings are designed so that the use of extra energy is minimal.

- It is very hard to install green energy sources on relics because of the law.

-The village architecture is designed to reduce their energy usage


Information from local contacts


Mr.He does not use solar panels or any green energy. He was not able to tell me how he got his electricity but he did tell me that the government supplied them with it. His house is made of concrete (the new Chinese way) and he has to use a heater over the winter unlike us at Yang Zhuo Ran. He said he lives better in his new house but the old house was constructed better. The only reason he did not like his old house was due to the fact that he lived in it with many other people because of the cultural revolution. He even said that in his new house he is a lot colder than in the old house because of the limited sunlight that is allowed to come in. However unlike I expected he said that he has not seen much change in the walls and other parts of his house over the years. His windows are very large and occupy a large part of the wall which allow lots of cold air to come in during the winter. He believes that the houses being built Xizhou right now are built quickly and not well. To sum it up the new households of Xizhou consume more energy. For example here at Yang Zhuo Ran we have not used heaters yet, however at Mr.He house they have a heater turned on the whole day, consuming more energy. 

Mr.Zhang (local museum)

3700 years ago They built  houses on the slope of the mountain. They  would dig a 1 meter hole to build. Apparently lake Erhai was higher at the time so people had to live closer to the mountains. People developed tools to make things fall down the mountain so that people in the village were able to get materials. Mr.Zhang says that they are not cold during the winter because of how the houses are built. The houses sit against the west. They only have windows on the east due to the fact that most of the wind comes from the West. The houses are designed so that in the morning when the sun is not intense it heats up the house. However in the afternoon when the sun is high the roof only allows sunlight in to lighten up the house. Because summer in Xizhou is not too warm they never use air conditioning. The walls are made with big slabs of rocks which contain heat and coolness well.The tiles on the roofs reflect sun to reduce the intensity. In the end I think that this really showed that green energy is not as much of a factor in Xizhou as architecture, which allows a small use of energy.
Ms.Duan (solar panel store) 
Ms.Duan owns a solar panel store near the market. I talked to her about prices and statistics. She told me that prices ranged from 2,000 to more than 5,000RMB.The ones people buy the most are the 24 poles solar panels. The machines range from just 15 poles to a little more than 30 (usually used for guesthouse).  Furthermore I learnt that she got all her solar panels from companies in Kunming which were not the most popular but went for a good price. Also I learnt that the average 24 pole solar panel produces up to 250 liters of warm water per day. Ms.Duan helped me get the simple facts about selling and buying these machines in Xizhou.
Other solar panel store (must confirm name) 
When you walk into this store you realize that this man only sells one brand, 太阳雨, (sun rain). According to Mr.... this is the worlds biggest brand in these types of solar panels. He was also able to tell me that the grey tanks that are always found next to the solar panels are simply water tanks that are connected with the tubes of the panel to make warm water. Unlike regular solar panels that people think about when the name is mentioned these solar panels do not produce electricity, they only heat up a households water. The cold water is stored in the large cylinder at the top of the machine. The cold water then flows down the poles, the water is then heated by solar irradiation. This then causes the warm water to rise back up the poles and back into the main storage which then heats up the rest of the water. This interview helped me understand mostly how these panels worked, he also confirmed the facts I had gotten from my previous interview.

survey reflection

-people are very aware of the initiatives happening around where they live

-8/10 people knew what the wind turbines were and knew what they did 

-They belong to private company who supplies energy for cities and small towns around Yunnan.

-some people think they ruin the view 

Mr.Yang (guesthouse owner)

-uses a 300 pole system to heat water for over 20 rooms

-said that even on rainy days he could use because of the large water storage capacity he has.

-Happy with purchase and feels everyone in Xizhou would use solar panels

-Water comes from ground water and goes to cold water tank, then goes to poles which heat it up and send to to the warm water tank.

-Ground water comes from a large water tower that can be spotted in Horizon.

-30 thousand RMB for entire setup

-Still much cheaper than any other way of getting warm water.

- Comes with a guarantee however he bought this from his friend who fixes all problems for him.

- Had minor leaking issue. Was not able to explain to me how or why

Alla (cook at Yang Zhuo Ran)

-New houses are built with not as good materials but still are better to live in 

- Her old house was 70 years old, forced to built new house because it was no good to live in anymore

- Her new house uses solar panels to warm water

-She has been using solar panels for 2 years

-She says that she has had no problems and that their water is always warm 

-She still lives with her parents so she was unable to tell me the main problems with old Houser new

-Her new house is built with concrete and marble

-She uses heater over winter at all times otherwise house to cold

Yeling and Evy

- They believe that all the houses should use green energy

-However there are many times, even when it is sunny where they have no warm water.

-During summer/rainy season they have to go to the Linden center to take showers because of the lack of hot water

-The Linden center is protected by national government who do not permit the use or build of green energy on old relics.

- They want green energy to be able to supply more than just warm water. She feels that if you are not using green energy it means your wasting it because its out there

-In Yeling home town they do not use solar panels. She only started about a year ago when she arrived in Xizhou.

-even if they were able to choose and that electricity was not harmful to the environment, they would still choose solar panels because of the low price. 

- government makes price very low to encourage the purchase of solar panels.


-Not able to put any sort of solar panel or machine on roofs or parts of Linden center.

-used the solar panels for 7 years and had few repairs. 

-Over rainy season or when it is even a little bit cloudy they are not able to produce hot water.

-Instead of solar panels they use water pump

-Much cheaper but more inconvenient than using a regular pump

Answers to previous questions from phase 1

1. Why has China made such a large investment in green energy?

I did not interview and did not focus on the governmental aspect therefore I do not have a different answer than the one I had in Phase 1.

2. How much of Xizhou's energy comes from green energy?

Almost all the houses here in Xizhou use solar panels for warm water and street lamps are also powered by solar and wind energy. 

3. Is it more or less expensive to produce electricity with green energy than using coal?

Because all the regular electricity in Xizhou comes from coal and it is much more expensive than a solar panel, I guessed that even with repairs green energy comes down to a lower price.

4. Is green energy more productive than coal? (Which one produces more energy.)

Green energy may not function at time however you can depend a lot more on coal. But apart from this I was not able to tell which of these two energy sources are more reliable.

5.Are the parts for the machines being produced in China, if not, where?

When I went to the wind farm near lake Erhai we passed by the main building of the plant. They had the blades of the turbines delivered there from other factories in China. Also the Solar panels here are all produced by Chinese companies as they are the leaders in solar water heating systems.

6. How does Xizhou get the parts, what is the logistics behind the process ?

I interviewed two stores here in Xizhou, One of them received their solar panels from Shanghai while the other received them from a smaller company in Kunming.

7. Is there still electricity being produced by coal in Xizhou, if so how much?

The Linden Centre is one of the examples that do not use green energy because of the cultural bureau. Other than this All houses still get electricity to have light and other basic needs in their home.

8.What green energy companies are helping China with producing and supplying?

I found that the most successful company for solar water heating is sun rain which is a company based in Shanghai. They produce most of China's solar water heating systems.

9. Have there been obvious differences in the village after China's rush in green energy?

The village definitely and obviously using green energy. However most of the people here feel its simply normal to use solar panels for water heating because otherwise they would be wasting what is already available.

10.  Has this impacted Xizhou in a good or bad way?

Now that I look at this question I feel that the answer is rather obvious. The only negative impact is that once in a while people do not have warm water.


1. Forbes:


3.Nicole.C (alumni E):

4.Energy saving trust:


6.Home power:

7. Pascal Ballon Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 21 October 2014

8. International rivers:

9. Mr.He. Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 26 November 2014

10. Mr.Zhang. Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 23 November 2014

11. Ms.Duan. Personal interview conducted by Noam B.,25 Novemeber 2014

12. Alla. Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 8 December 2014

13. Solar store owner. Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 23 November 2014

14.Mr.Yang (guesthouse owner). Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 4 December 2014

15. People near lake Erhai. Personal Survey conducted by Noam B., 1 December 2014 

16.Yeling. Personal interview conducted by Noam B.,10 December 2014

17.Brian Linden. Personal interview conducted by Noam B., 9 December 2014

Now that I have been collecting interviews in the "field" for the past 2 week I feel comfortable moving on to Phase 4. I will be sharing and planning how my information will become a final project. I will also be organizing my Information in neater ways.


Hey world, my name is Noam. I am a 13 year old born in France. When I was 4 months old I moved to Beijing and lived there for 4 years I then moved to Shanghai and I have been living there ever since. However I have only been going to SAS Pudong for the past 3 years. I have a brother in 5th grade and my mom is one of the health teachers at SAS Pudong. I love playing all sports but my favorites are touch rugby, soccer and basketball. My profile picture may seem like a mistake to you, your wrong. I chose this picture because over this trip it was not just about me, it was about everyone. Microcampus was the best experience I have ever been on. I learnt so much and had so much fun.