Spotlight Activity: Renewable Energy Use is Growing in China
In response to climate change and environmental pollution, the energy and power systems of major countries in the world are in a transition period of replacing traditional energy sources to renewable energies. As one of the largest energy consumers in the world, China’s energy consumption accounts for 24% of the world’s energy. In addition, the consumption growth rate is 3.9% on average over the past decade. It is thus important to understand the national plan and the status quo of renewables in China.
Since 2005, China has experienced a large energy transformation in the electricity sector. Apart from coal, crude oil, and gases, different forms of renewable energies have entered Chinese energy sector. The main producers of China’s renewable energy are in the west. The major renewable energies in China are hydro, solar, and wind energy. The hydro energy stations are mainly constructed in provinces where it is geographically allowed, for example Sichuan and others. Wind energy production is concentrated in the coastal cities, desert areas, and grasslands. Unlike hydro and wind energy, solar energy is produced on a large scale and has widespread household usage. Solar panels are seen everywhere as you enter China, especially in villages where there are large roofs for installations.
As renewable industries expand rapidly, China’s infrastructure is not mature enough to absorb the energy produced. To encourage the installation of renewables, the Chinese government has awarded $13 billion dollars in industry subsidies each year. This has attracted tremendous levels of investment as more and more businesses have entered the photovoltaic and wind energy industries. With high subsidies and high returns, renewable industries have grown fast. However the manufacturing sector has not developed as quickly, leaving a gap between renewable energy supply and demand. China still has a long way to go to improve its ability to efficiently absorb renewable energy.
China has plans with respect to the share of renewable energy in its energy base. In 2018, the share of renewable energy was about 22.2% according to the Chinese National Energy Administration (CNEA). This was 7.7% higher compared to the data in 2012. The government has set goals of 25% by 2020 and 35% by 2035 for the country’s renewable energy usage. Currently, the CNEA also has set goals for all the provinces in China to reach a certain portion of its energy in renewables. Lin Shanqing, the Vice President of the Chinese National Energy Administration, said that as energy transformation progresses and develops, new situations and new problems will increase.
The cost of renewable energy in China has decreased in the market compared to a decade ago. It is found that in areas where there is low cost for infrastructure construction and good market conditions, the cost of renewables is competitive compared to fossil resources.
Status: Right Direction
The subsidies given by the National Finance Department have greatly encouraged investment in renewable energies. Combined with the renewable energy quota set for different provinces, China is taking strong steps to promote the use of renewable energy.
Dear National Energy Administration,
Thank you for setting up plans and providing subsidies to encourage renewable energy’s usage. However, in order to reach the government’s 25% renewable energy usage goal, we only have one year to go. More actions need to be taken in order to meet this goal.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Vice President of Chinese National Energy Administration