China Renewables Update

It's been some years since I updated my China web page.  I plan to make that page active again during 2015.  For now, here are a few items on the current renewable energy situation, gleaned during the past few months.

1. It appears that the government is getting ready to tackle the issue of electricity sector reform/restructuring for the first time since 2002, although how those changes will affect renewables is still unknown.

2. New RPS targets are under development.  (For the existing RPS targets, see my 2010 paper on renewables in China.) By 2020, the existing targets set in 2007 are 3% of power generation for grid operators, and 8% of power capacity for generating companies with more than 5 GW of generation. Both numbers exclude hydropower.)

3. The existing target for wind power by 2020 now stands at 200 GW.  No question this will be met or exceeded. A wind power roadmap published by the China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC) shows 2000 GW by 2050.  

4. The existing target for solar PV by 2020 now stands at 100 GW.  No question this will be met or exceeded.  (And mid-point target has been 35 GW by 2015, which will definitely be exceeded.)  A solar roadmap published by the China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC) shows 1000 GW by 2050.  (That no longer seems so far-fetched to me, and compares with some of the highest global solar scenarios of 2000 GW in 2050.)

5. The existing target for hydro now stands at 350 GW by 2020.  Hydro development may not go too far beyond that after 2020, perhaps to 400 GW. That is, most hydro opportunities will be developed by 2020.

6. Wind power curtailment in some regions of China is now running upwards of 20-30%, due to transmission bottlenecks and/or lack of sufficient power demand in the provinces in and around where the wind farms are located. This has become a serious issue, and the China State Grid and generating companies are looking at technical, policy, and incentive-based ways to make coal plants in these regions more flexible, to reduce wind-power curtailment rates.

7. There seems to be more and more dialogue, as expressed in research modeling and scenarios but also in government dialogue, about the possibility of "peak coal" or "peak fossil fuel" occurring in China by around 2030 or 2035.  This could mean, for example, that total coal consumption in China would level out or even decline after 2030. Or that no new coal power plants would be built after 2030. Or that total fossil fuel use would peak by 2035.

8. A new scenario being released by the China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC) is called "China High-Penetration Renewable Energy Study to 2050."  Preliminary results of the scenario show renewable energy providing more than 80% of China's electricity by 2050.  As part of that scenario, China takes a massive turn to electric vehicles, such that there are 400 million electric passenger vehicles in China by 2050, out of a total of 500 million passenger vehicles.  This, coupled with other developments, causes the "electrification" of China, such that by 2050, over 60% of China's energy consumption comes from electricity (three times the 22% that it is today).  [Note:  need to clarify whether this is primary or final energy.]

9. The bi-monthly briefing paper of the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co. Ltd. is a good source for info on solar PV in particular, and is available for free download at http://www.aecea.com.de.   Frank Haugwitz runs this service and has followed solar PV in China more closely than anyone I know.

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