Chinese renewable energy sector struggles with electricity distribution system
A report by Greenpeace and the Chinese government and other groups says the Chinese renewable energy sector could attract $782 billion in investment between 2016 and 2030 as China works to meet its non-fossil fuel energy targets.
The Chinese government has pledged to increase renewable energy to at least 20 per cent of the country’s total consumption by the end of 2030, up from 12 per cent in 2015.
Also around 2030, Chinese carbon dioxide emissions are expected to peak.
China is hoping to raise the share of wind and solar power as primary energy consumption to 17 per cent by 2030, up from 4 per cent in 2015, according to the report published by Greenpeace.
If the wind and solar goals are met by 2030, China could reduce fossil fuel consumption by almost 300 million tonnes of standard coal a year, which is equivalent to France’s total primary energy consumption in 2015.
Between 2016 and 2020, China’s National Development and Reform Commission’s “five-year plan” for renewables lays out a plan to increase total wind generation capacity from 129 gigawatts in 2015 to over 220 GW by 2020. Solar is set to increase from 43.18 GW to 110 GW over the same period.
The NRDC report noted total renewable capacity, which includes hydropower, would increase to 680 GW, up from 480 GW in 2015, a 27 per cent increase.
According to the NRDC, between 2016 – 2020, its plans would require a total investment of 2.5 trillion yuan on solar, wind and other renewables.
There are concerns that China’s electricity distribution system is not flexible enough to handle renewable power and there are technological obstacles with connecting wind and solar to the grid which could end in large amounts of waste.
China’s Electric Power Planning and Engineering Institute said in 2016, 49.7 billion kilowatt-hours of wind power failed to make it to the grid. That number is up from 33.9 billion kWh in 2015. That amounts to 17 per cent of total wind power generation.
China Wind Energy Association, the NDRC’s Energy Research Institute, Tsinghua University and the environmental research group, Draworld contributed to the report.