China’s renewable energy plans are now targeting at least 35 percent of electricity generation from renewables sources by 2030, instead of 20%, with solar leading the charge.
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), photovoltaic capacity increased by 50% worldwide in 2016, with China’s renewable energy growth contributing nearly half of it.
By 2022, renewable energy production is expected to increase by 43%, with an additional 1000 GW globally.
New solar power capacities globally grew faster than any other form of energy, and for the first time exceeding the growth in coal, and that is largely thanks to China’s solar investments.
With its new plan, China will likely continue to be the biggest driver of renewables growth in the world.
Renewables to Make up Over the Third of China’s Energy Mix
China, as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and biggest energy consumer, is at the center of the global energy transformation.
Previously, the country was seeking to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 15% by 2020, and then 20% by 2030.
Now, China has changed its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and upped its renewable electricity target by shooting for 35% at least by 2030.
The new Chinese RPS policy also addresses some loopholes in the policy that until now has hampered the growth of renewables in the country.
For example, a large amount of renewable electricity produced goes to waste mainly because the law doesn’t force Chinese provinces to meet any energy mix portfolio requirements.
This has changed with the new policy as it sets local targets for provinces in the form of minimum levels they have to reach.
Power companies that don’t comply with the new RPS will pay fines that will be used to alleviate the country’s substantial subsidies program for renewables.
The growth in renewable capacities in China has always been contrasted by the increasing growth of fossil fuel capacities, especially coal, the worst of them all.
Last year, the Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) announced that the country would invest $360 billion in renewable energy by 2020 and cancel 85 projects of coal power plants.
While the new legislation seeks to reduce the country’s reliance on coal, it doesn’t look like the most polluting fossil fuels will leave the scene anytime soon.
New coal power plants are popping up across Chinese provinces at intense rates.
In a recent report, in what it calls a coal “tsunami”, CoalSwarm says that a whopping 259 Gigawatts of new coal capacities are currently under construction in China, to be added to the country’s existing 734 GW coal capacity, which is “wildly out of line with the Paris climate agreement.”
For comparison, the entire coal capacity for the U.S is 266 GW.
CoalSwarm attributes this boom in coal projects to the “permitting surge from late 2014 to early 2016, after a regulatory devolution from central to provincial authorities.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that for a 50% chance of keeping the increase in global temperatures below 1.75°C, China has to decommission all its existing coal-fired plants by 2045.