China—No 100% 2050 Commitment
Benchmark: 29% of electricity from renewables by 2030
China has not made a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050; however, its renewable energy target is to produce 20% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030.
China has planned to invest 2.5 trillion Yuan (292 billion pounds) into renewable power generation by 2020, allowing for wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power to contribute toward half of new electricity production. In January 2017, the National Energy Administration and Reform Commission stated that solar will receive 1 trillion Yuan of spending, as the country seeks to boost capacity by five times. Experts have estimated that this is equivalent to about 1,000 major solar power plants. The NEA has not disclosed any further details on how the funds will be allocated.
Looking at current efforts, China has added 3.5 gigawatts of new solar generation in 2016, alone—equivalent to Germany’s total capacity in just one year. At this stage, wind power only accounts for 4% of total energy capacity, and solar represents 1% of China’s electricity in 2016. Greenpeace Beijing has estimated that current installation rates show that every hour China erects enough wind turbines and solar panels to cover a soccer field.
Chinese solar fields have been architectured into images of Panda Bears, the national symbolic animal, with the aim of creating greater awareness and promotion of the development of renewable sources of energy. The Panda power plant in Datong, Shanxi hosts an estimated 1,500 acres of solar panels and is estimated to generate 100 megawatts of energy at a time. The giant formation of the panda can be seen from air and will be connected to the grid in the upcoming months.
Last month, the Chinese province of Qinghai ran on 100% renewable energy (solar, wind, and hydropower) for the week of June 17th to 23rd. The week was part of a trial conducted by the State Grid Corporation of China, which is investigating the long-term viability of renewables across the grid. The total amount of energy produced amounted to 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of energy, sustaining over 5.6 million residents.
Although China has erected hundreds of renewable energy projects in the past year, it has not fully considered the integration capacity of renewable sources of electricity onto the national grid. Greenpeace estimates that 9% of all solar energy and 19% of wind energy generated never makes it onto the grid. Gansu province is even estimated to have over 45% of its wind energy lost. As a result, China must organize a greater efficacy in the way it builds transmission lines from the renewable power plants. China states that it has already recognized this problem and will focus on constructing renewables in a smarter way while focusing on areas where consumption is most abundant.