China’s Clean Energy Revolution Accelerates: Country on Track to Smash Wind and Solar Targets Five Years Early

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Say what you will about China (and there’s much to say), the country isn’t messing around with clean solar and wind power. Solar capacity in China is now greater than the rest of the world combined!

According to a new report by the non-profit Global Energy Monitor, China is on track to double wind and solar capacity and hit its 2030 clean energy targets five years early. It’s projected to produce at least 1,200 gigawatts of solar and wind by 2025.

To put that into perspective, in 2022, China’s solar PV capacity reached 300 GW, and its wind power capacity reached 280 GW. Its onshore and offshore capacity has doubled since 2017, with a capacity now roughly equal to the combined total for the other top 7 countries.

The country is also investing heavily in clean energy storage and other clean technologies.

However, China is also the world’s largest energy consumer and emitter of greenhouse gases.

This blog post will explore China’s clean energy revolution, focusing on solar and wind power. It will discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and highlight how China is leading the way in the global clean energy race.

The Rise of Solar and Wind Power in China

China has been a global leader in developing solar and wind power. This rapid growth is due to several factors, including government policies, technological advances, and growing demand for clean energy.

The history of clean energy in China can be traced back to the early 1990s when the government began to promote the development of solar and wind power. In 2005, China launched a feed-in tariff policy for solar and wind power, which guaranteed a minimum price for renewable energy. This policy was a major driver of growth in the solar and wind sectors.

The Chinese government has further accelerated its support for clean energy in recent years. For instance, in 2016, China announced a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. This target has provided a strong impetus for the development of solar and wind power.

Incentives and regulation

China has adopted several government incentives and regulations to grow its solar and wind capacity quickly. These include:

Feed-in tariffs: Feed-in tariffs are a policy that guarantees a minimum price for renewable energy, which makes it more attractive for investors to build solar and wind projects. China has had a feed-in tariff policy for solar and wind since 2005, and it has been one of the main drivers of growth in these sectors.

Renewable portfolio standards: Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are a policy that requires utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. China has had an RPS policy since 2011, which has helped increase the demand for solar and wind power.

Tax breaks and subsidies: China has also offered tax breaks and subsidies to solar and wind projects, which has helped to reduce the cost of these projects and make them more affordable.

Regulations to support grid integration: China has also adopted regulations to support the grid integration of solar and wind power. These regulations make it easier for solar and wind projects to connect to the grid, which is essential for the widespread deployment of these technologies.

The Challenges of Solar and Wind Power in China

While China has made significant progress in solar and wind power, challenges still need to be addressed. These include:

  • The need for more investment in energy storage.
  • The need to improve the grid to accommodate more intermittent renewable energy sources.
  • The need to address public concerns about the environmental impact of solar and wind power projects.

China’s coal problem

China is the world’s largest consumer of coal and the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The country’s reliance on coal is a significant obstacle to its journey to net-zero emissions.

Coal is a fossil fuel that is burned to generate electricity. When coal is burned, it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, a major contributor to climate change.

China’s reliance on coal is due to some factors, including:

  • The country’s large population and growing economy.
  • The availability of coal resources in China.
  • The relatively low cost of coal.
  • China’s coal industry is also a significant source of political power. The government heavily subsidizes the coal industry that some powerful interest groups control. This makes it difficult for the government to take action to reduce coal consumption.
  • The coal industry is also a significant source of employment, and the government is reluctant to close coal mines or power plants. Closures would lead to job losses and economic hardship.

In recent years, China has taken some steps to reduce its reliance on coal. For example, the government has imposed a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in some regions. However, more than these steps are needed to significantly reduce China’s coal consumption.

A report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and the Global Energy Monitor shows the coal power permits issued accelerated last year, with new permits hitting a new high since 2015.

The rise resulted from ravaging heat waves and drought, the worst for China in over six decades. With many rivers dry, the country could not produce as much hydropower. This happened just when it saw a surge in demand.

The continued reliance on coal is dragging China’s journey to net-zero emissions. To achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, China must significantly reduce its coal consumption.

Conclusion

China is leading the global clean energy revolution, and solar and wind power play a major role in this transformation. The challenges are significant, but the opportunities are even greater. China is well-positioned to lead the way in the global clean energy race, and the future of solar and wind power in the country looks promising.

  • Simon Elstad

    As assistant editor at Greener Ideal, Simon champions clean energy, mobility, tech and the environment. He’s passionate about uncovering innovative solutions that power a sustainable future. When he's not dissecting envirotech data, you can find him exploring nature, actively supporting wildlife & environmental conservation efforts.

    To collaborate, support, give feedback or sponsor a post, please reach him at: [email protected]

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