China Doubled Its Number of Wind and Solar Plants in 2020

January 31st, 2021 - by Reuters & The South China Morning Post

China bests Japan and the US as world leader in renewable energy.
Reuters & The South China Morning Post
•  China’s 2020 figure is ahead of the 60.4GW of new wind capacity added globally in 2019, according to Global Wind Energy Council
•  China seeks to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 25 per cent by 2030, up from 15 per cent in 2020

A solar and windpower farm in Dongtai near Yancheng in Jiangsu province. Photo: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (January 21, 2021) — China more than doubled its construction of new wind and solar power plants in 2020 from a year earlier, government data showed, reflecting Beijing’s pledge to cut fossil fuel dependence and bring carbon emissions to a peak within a decade.

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, added 71.67 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity last year, the most ever and nearly triple 2019’s levels, according to data released by the National Energy Administration (NEA) late Wednesday.

China’s 2020 figure is ahead of the 60.4GW of new wind capacity added globally in 2019, according to data from the Global Wind Energy Council. New solar power capacity also rebounded in 2020 to 48.2GW after falling for two straight years, the data showed, beating an earlier industry estimate of 40GW.

The rise came as China announced an end to subsidies for new onshore wind power projects starting from 2021. The government has vowed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to 25 per cent by 2030, President Xi Jinping said last month. They accounted for 15 per cent in 2020, up from just 6.8 per cent in 2005.

China would also take its total installed wind and solar capacity to 1,200GW, Xi added. By the end of 2020, China had 281.5GW of wind generation capacity, and 253.4GW of solar generation capacity, the NEA data showed.

“China’s smashing wind power building records and continuing with strong solar growth makes the country a top destination for foreign clean energy investment,” said Jeanett Bergan, an executive of Norway’s largest pension fund KLP.

To meet China’s targets to slash emissions of carbon dioxide, authorities are pushing to shut down privately owned steel, coal, and other high-polluting factories scattered across rural areas like this one in Inner Mongolia. Photo: Getty Images

China continued to build new thermal power capacity in 2020, according to the data, bringing it to a five-year high of 56.37GW. The NEA did not break down the figure into gas- and coal-fired power projects.

Studies have shown that China completed 11GW of new coal-fired power capacity in the first half of 2020, and had an additional 53GW in its planned project pipeline. They represented 90 per cent of the global total.

“China should just stop building coal-fired power plants as soon as possible,” said Zou Ji, head of the Energy Foundation China. “It is the requirements of carbon-neutrality targets.”

Experts say average utilisation at coal-fired power plants are now less than 4,000 hours in China, well below the designed level of 5,500 hours, with grids prioritising cleaner alternative sources of electricity.

China Doubled the Pace of New Renewable Power Plant Launches in 2020

China takes the lead in the transition to solar power.

BEIJING (January 22, 2021) — In 2020, China significantly advanced on the way to commissioning renewable energy generating capacities, but did not disregard thermal power plants using coal and gas. Decarbonization remains a desired goal of the Chinese authorities, but the country’s urgent needs are not forgotten for a minute. They do not want it to be like in Japan, when extreme cold has put the country’s energy system on the brink of collapse.

According to data released yesterday by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), in 2020, the country commissioned 71.67 GW of new wind energy capacity, which exceeded the commissioning of similar capacities worldwide in 2019 (60.4 GW). New solar energy capacities also increased in 2020 – to 48.2 GW, while before that they had been declining for two years in a row. By the way, since 2021, the Chinese authorities will stop subsidizing the construction of onshore wind farms, which could shift investments in green energy in the country to a different plane.

By the end of 2020, China had 281.5 GW of wind power and 253.4 GW of solar power, according to NEA. According to plans, over the next ten years, the total deployed capacity of wind and solar energy production will reach 1200 GW. By this time, the share of non-fossil fuels should be 25% in the generation of primary electricity, and today it is at around 15%.

“China’s excellent record in wind power construction and continued strong growth in solar energy make the country a top destination for foreign investment in clean energy,” said Jeanett Bergan, CEO of Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP.

With all this innovation, China in 2020 increased the commissioning of new thermal power plants to a five-year high – to 56.37 GW (coal and natural gas). In the first half of 2020, China completed the construction of 11 GW new coal-fired power plants, and another 53 GW is in the planned project portfolio. They account for 90% of the global figure.

At the same time, the average load of coal-fired power plants in China is currently less than 4,000 hours, well below the design level of 5,500 hours. At the same time, the power grids give priority to cleaner alternative sources of electricity. In other words, China maintains its generation reserve at a decent level, which avoids critical loads on the generating infrastructure.

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