Mixed Results from China’s Energy Reform Efforts

Mixed Results from China’s Energy Reform Efforts

Several policy documents laying out plans for an energy sector reform have been issued since 2014. Among them are China’s National Climate Plan, China’s Nationally Determined Contributions and the 13th 5-Year Plan on Energy Reform (13th Energy FYP). They will all have to stand scrutiny as to their target achievement by the end of 2020.

Among the most concrete plans are the National Climate Plan and the 13th Energy FYP which stipulate guidelines and specific capacities for improved energy generation from coal, oil and gas, wind, solar, biomass and thermal recycling energy, for energy consumption saving targets, for better distribution and for the financing of new technologies. 

The energy mix until 2020 foresees a shift from “dirty” coal energy to “clean” alternatives, which in China includes natural gas, hydro, nuclear, solar and wind. Renewables’ increasing role is illustrated by the fact that by 2020 many of the originally set annual capacities of 200 Gigawatt (GW) for wind, 100 GW for solar, 350 GW for hydro, 58 GW for nuclear and 15 GW for biomass energy will have been exceeded. However, these are not sufficient to ensure energy security, therefore China focuses on natural gas to replace coal, eliminating outdated coal-fired power generation units and implementation of a.o. ultra-low emissions plants.

Energy efficiency measures to reduce overall consumption complement structural reforms, e.g. shifting from traditional energy-guzzling industries to less energy-consuming sectors. The target is a reduction in commercial energy consumption to 2.5% by 2020 for sectors like steel or building materials. Overall energy consumption by 2020 should remain within 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalent (SCE), thereof up to 15% from non-fossil fuels, 10% from natural gas, and less than 58% from coal.

Policies also call for improvement of energy distribution through the development of smart grids and distributed energy resources. Smaller-scale local energy generation is to increasingly satisfy local energy needs and alleviate problems of efficiency losses in distribution. Fiscal incentives, new energy resource pricing mechanisms, and financing support complete the reform plans.

Results so far are mixed. Total energy consumption has been rising steadily to 4,86 billion tons SCE in 2019, up 4.5% from last year. Clean energy accounted for 23.4% up by 1.3 percentage points. Consumption of natural gas rose by 8.6%, followed by crude oil (+6.8%). The share of coal in overall energy consumption has dropped to 57.7% in 2019, reaching China’s target ahead of time. However, increased energy demand has triggered the addition rather than reduction of coal power capacity: from 2018 to 2019, the country added 43 GW of net new coal power capacity. Therefore, overall coal consumption rose again, with increases for 2019 being estimated between 1% (National Bureau of Statistics) and 3% (Greenpeace). Coal remains the energy source of choice based on availability and price, while access to cleaner natural gas remains hampered by higher prices and access (transport, import) problems.

China’s efforts to adjust its energy structure and improve energy efficiency has led to a constant decline in carbon intensity, partly due to the reduced share of coal in the energy mix. China’s CO2 intensity declined by 4.1% in 2019, but the increased energy demand will likely be leading to yet another increase in overall CO2 emissions. In 2018, China’s CO2 emissions increased y-o-y by 2.2% to 9.64 Gt CO2.


Activity Rating: ***Moving Forward (needs more work)

 China has made enormous strides in raising the share of renewable energy forms in the overall energy mix. However, the task of energy reform is complex as it not just tackles CO2 emissions and climate change but increasingly integrates a more immediate problem: alleviating heavy air pollution and addressing PM 2.5 particulate, VOCs and gasses like SOX and NOX. Therefore, the official policy defines natural gas as “clean” energy in the same category as renewables and nuclear energy. While natural gas is certainly not ideal, other forms of so-called “clean” energy come with their own problems: hydropower’s environmental impact on biodiversity and economic impact on the livelihood of downstream farmers is well documented and discussed. So is nuclear energy, especially after the meltdown of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. More energy from wind and solar is certainly desirable, but it is unrealistic to hope that those energy forms are able to sustain in the mid-term the energy needs of a country with a population of 1.4 billion, and one that continues to be a manufacturing hub for of many of our daily used products of convenience.

Far more worrying is that China continues to export and finance coal energy technology – albeit cleaner coal technology – to the developing countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) when it has the technological know-how, expertise, and financial capacity to help these countries build up capacities in renewable energy. This export policy runs counter to the global fight against CO2 emissions from fossil fuels as it creates emissions in countries that may not have the ability to invest in clean energy sources. 

Also, much remains to be done regarding energy efficiency where China lags behind developed countries. More efforts to improve the efficiency of energy-intensive industries, for example, construction, cement, steel, and chemicals, are called for. For example, better heat and steam recycling from production to reduce primary energy needs based on coal. Policies like an absolute coal consumption cap not based on the share-of-energy mix and incentives for developing clean coal production and utilization technologies, such as coal cleaning technologies and carbon capture and storage technologies are called for. Accelerated development of non-fossil fuel energy technologies, especially renewables, can be achieved by increasing investment, setting more active and binding goals, giving priority to non-fossil fuels in gaining grid access, and establishing a carbon emission trade market. As to natural gas, China has been struggling with production, storage, and transportation infrastructure insufficiencies leading to seasonal shortages. Natural gas has to be a large part to be imported as local production ability is yet insufficient.


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China has assumed a leadership role in energy sector reform especially in developing and installing capacity for renewable energy technologies since the Paris Agreement in 2015. We recognize that the energy sector reform is highly complex especially in light of a slower economy. At the same time, we urge the Chinese government to continue on their path and accelerate the phasing out of coal-fired plants, stop the financing and export of coal-based energy technology in favor of renewable energy, and focus on easing access and pricing for cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas while increasing efforts to steadily expand capacities for renewable energies. We also acknowledge the complex task of phasing out older, energy-consuming industries in a socially responsible manner, but urge the Chinese government, as the time to lower CO2 emissions is running out, that fast action and investment in innovative energy-efficient technologies are imperative.

Contact:

National Energy Administration (NEA)

Director Jianhua Zhang

38Yuetan South Street,

Xicheng District,

Beijing 100824

 

国家能源局

局长:章建华

中国北京市西城区月坛南街38号

邮政编号100824

 

National Development and Reform Commission

中华人民共和国国家发展和改革委员会

Minister Lifeng He  / 何立峰

http://xf.ndrc.gov.cn/xf/2019/ly.jsp

 

For feedback in English: 

Premier Li Keqiang

http://topic.media.gov.cn/topicdata/en/2020/index.html


Sources:

 

https://www.chinabusinessreview.com/new-five-year-plans-promote-energy-industry-reform/

 

http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2017-01/17/5160588/files/595b9ac5f61d46c4828b99404578eba5.pdf

 

https://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/china-2020-air-pollution-action-plan-released/

 

https://chinadialogue-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/content/file_en/11225/CD67-5.pdf

 

https://yearbook.enerdata.net

 

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2019/12/01/end-of-the-year-wrap-up-five-figures-show-chinas-renewable-energy-growth-in-2019/#gref

 

https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201904/28/WS5cc59903a3104842260b8ed7.html

 

http://data.stats.gov.cn/english/easyquery.htm?cn=C01

 

https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/12/china-faces-4-big-risks-if-it-continues-building-more-coal-plants

 

https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/117/1/29.full.pdf


This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard China Country Manager Annette Wiedenbach; Translation by Jolin.



Climate Scorecard 专题报道 #26, 2020年3月

 

中国

 

活动聚焦:能源部门改革

中国自2014年以来颁布了多份能源部门改革计划政策文件,包括《国家应对气候变化规划》、《强化应对气候变化行动——中国国家自主贡献》和《能源发展“十三五”规划》,并设定在2020年底接受对其目标完成情况的审查。

 

颁布的各项政策中最细致具体的当属《国家应对气候变化规划》和《能源发展“十三五”规划》,此二份规划为改善煤炭、石油和天然气、风能、太阳能、生物质能以及热循环能源发电质量和效率问题,为实现节能目标、更高效的能源输配以及技术创新融资方面制定了准则和具体指标

 

到2020年,中国能源结构将从以传统煤炭能源为主导向“清洁”低碳能源组合转化——天然气,水能,核能,太阳能和风能。规划书最初规划到2020年,可再生能源装机量将分别实现风电装机容量达到200吉瓦,太阳能发电规模100吉瓦,水电350吉瓦,核电58吉瓦以及生物质能达到15吉瓦,而实际装机量预计已超出预期。然而,这些并不足以保证能源安全。因此中国拟大力发展天然气用以替代煤炭,除其他外建造超低排放发电厂籍以取代过时的燃煤发电设施。

 

能源战略规定以减少总能耗为目的的节能措施来深化能源结构改革,例如从传统的高耗能行业转型为低耗能行业。具体目标为到2020年,将钢铁或者建筑材料等行业的能源消费比重降低至2.5%;能源消费总量控制在50亿吨标准煤(SCE)以内,其中非化石能源消费比重提高到15%以上,天然气消费比重力争提高到10%,煤炭比重降低到58%以下。

 

能源战略还要求通过发展智能电网和分布式能源来改善能源分配。小规模的本地能源生产是为了满足日益增长的本地需求并缓解能效输送损失的问题。进一步完善财政激励措,新能源定价机制和金融支持措施,促进能源产业可持续发展。

 

目前为止,结果好坏参半。2019年能源消费总量稳步升至48.6亿吨标准煤(SCE),较上年增长4.5%。清洁能源占比23.4%,提高了1.3个百分比。天然气消费量增长了8.6%,其次为原油,增长了6.8%。到2019年,煤炭在能源消费总量中所占比例降低至57.7%,提前完成了政府设定的目标。但是,能源需求的扩大导致额外的煤电用量增长:從2018年到2019年,中国增加了43吉瓦的燃煤发电装机量。因此,总体煤炭消费量再次上升,据悉2019年的增长量在1%(中国国家统计局数据)和3%(绿色和平组织数据)之间。煤炭因本土资源丰富和成本而一直备受青睐,而清洁的天然气发电的发展则因为成本偏高和输配(运输、进口)问题受到制约。

 

中国政府在改革能源结构和提高能源效率方面的努力使得碳强度不断下降,煤炭在能源结构中的占比显著减少。2019年中国的二氧化碳排放强度下降了4.1%,但能源需求的增长则使二氧化碳排放总量又一次增加。 2018年,中国二氧化碳排放量同比增长2.2%,达到了9.64亿吨。

活动评分:★★★能源政策有所改善(但仍需进一步努力)

 

中国在提高可再生能源在整体能源结构中的占比上取得了巨大进步。但是,能源改革任务本身很复杂,不仅要解决二氧化碳排放和气候变化问题,而且面临一个更迫切的问题:治理严重的空气污染,解决PM2.5颗粒物以及挥发性有机化合物、硫氧化物和氮氧化物等有害气体。因此,官方政策將天然气定义为“低碳清洁”能源,和可再生能源、核能归为同等类别。尽管天然气并不是最理想的选择,但其它形式的“清洁”能源也有其自身的問題:水电对环境生态多样性的破坏和对下游区域农民生活的经济影响已得到充分认识和讨论。核能也有缺陷,日本福岛核事故给世界核电发展敲响了警钟。风能和太阳能是理想的能源,但期求这两种能源能满足一个拥有14亿人口的大国的中期发展能源需求显然不现实,尤其需要考虑到中国还是全球日常生活用品的制造中心。

 

更令人担忧的是,尽管中国基于现有的技术经验、专业知识和财务能力来帮助一些发展中国家建立可再生能源体系,但依然坚持执行“一带一路”倡议(BRI)向这些国家输出、资助煤电项目(即便是“绿色”的煤炭技术)。这项出口政策与全球反对化石燃料减少二氧化碳排放的主旨背道而驰,这些国家将被困锁在高碳排放基础设施中。

 

此外,在能效方面中国还落后于发达国家。如何提高能源密集型行业(例如建筑、水泥、钢铁和化工等)的能效上还有很多工作要做,比如研究如何通过更好地在生产环节中回收热量和蒸汽来达到减少煤炭消耗。也可以考虑改进相关政策——例如摒弃设置能源份额上限而采用煤炭消费绝对值作为考量,以及鼓励发展清洁煤炭生产和使用技术(如煤炭清洁技术和炭捕集封存技术)的出台。通过增加投资加速发展非化石燃料能源技术特別是可再生能源技术;设定更积极且具有约束力的目标;电网准入方面优先考虑非化石燃料以及建立碳排放贸易市场等。另外,中国一直存在天然气生产、储存和运输基础设施不完善的问题,其结果是天然气供应季节性短缺成为通病。另外,由于国内产能不足,天然气必须大量依靠进口。

行动指南和联络信息:

 

自2015年《巴黎协定》签署以来,中国在能源行业改革中特别是在开发和使用可再生能源技术方面发挥了领导作用。我们完全明白,尤其在当前经济放缓的大环境下,能源行业改革会更趋复杂,但依然希望中国政府继续加快改革步伐,加速淘汰煤炭落后产能,停止以煤炭为基础的能源技术金融支持和出口,转而支持可再生能源,并着力简化准入和定价机制,推广天然气等更为清洁的化石燃料,同时加大努力稳步扩大可再生能源的产能。凭借对社会负责的态度淘汰过时的高能耗产业无疑是一项艰巨的任务,然而当局必须意识到降低碳排放的任务艰巨,时间紧迫,政府必须加速行动,加大投资新型节能技术力度。

 

联系方式:

国家能源局

局长:章建华

中国北京市西城区月坛南街38号

邮政编号100824

 

中华人民共和国国家发展和改革委员会 

何立峰主任

http://xf.ndrc.gov.cn/xf/2019/ly.jsp

 

英文反馈 

李克强总理

http://topic.media.gov.cn/topicdata/en/2020/index.html

Sources/参考资料

 

https://www.chinabusinessreview.com/new-five-year-plans-promote-energy-industry-reform/

 

http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2017-01/17/5160588/files/595b9ac5f61d46c4828b99404578eba5.pdf

 

https://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/china-2020-air-pollution-action-plan-released/

 

https://chinadialogue-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/content/file_en/11225/CD67-5.pdf

 

https://yearbook.enerdata.net

 

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2019/12/01/end-of-the-year-wrap-up-five-figures-show-chinas-renewable-energy-growth-in-2019/#gref

 

https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201904/28/WS5cc59903a3104842260b8ed7.html

 

http://data.stats.gov.cn/english/easyquery.htm?cn=C01

 

https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/12/china-faces-4-big-risks-if-it-continues-building-more-coal-plants

 

https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/117/1/29.full.pdf

 

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