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Melanie Hart is a Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy at the Center for American Progress. Luke H. Bassett is the Associate Director of Domestic Energy and Environment Policy at the Center. Blaine Johnson is a China and Asia Policy Analyst at the Center.
In December 2016, the Center for American Progress brought a group of energy experts to China to find out what is really happening. We visited multiple coal facilities—including a coal-to-liquids plant—and went nearly 200 meters down one of China’s largest mines to interview engineers, plant managers, and local government officials working at the front lines of coal in China.
We found that the nation’s coal sector is undergoing a massive transformation that extends from the mines to the power plants, from Ordos to Shanghai.
The nation is on track to overdeliver on the emissions reduction commitments it put forward under the Paris climate agreement, and making coal cleaner is an integral part of the process.
From a climate perspective, the ideal scenario would be for China to shut down all of its coal-fired power plants and switch over to clean energy full stop. In reality, China’s energy economy is a massive ship that cannot turn on a dime.
The shift toward renewables is happening: China’s Paris commitment includes a promise to install 800 gigawatts to 1,000 gigawatts of new renewable capacity by 2030, an amount equivalent to the capacity of the entire U.S. electricity system.
While China and the United States have roughly the same land mass, however, China has 1.3 billion people to the United States’ 325 million.
It needs an electricity system that is much larger, so adding the renewable equivalent of one entire U.S. electricity system is not enough to replace coal in the near to medium term.
To bridge the gap, China is rolling out new technologies to drastically reduce local air pollution and climate emissions from the nation’s remaining coal power plants. Read More (Seriously, this is a must-read for all energy observers!)
China will invest $360 billion in renewable power projects by 2020 as the world’s largest energy consumer moves away from coal
China just announced it will invest massively into its renewable energy sector as the world prepares for a new energy leader. Coal consumption has brought huge environmental problems although the economy has taken huge strides in past decades, growing from a poor, developing country, to the world’s largest economy… (more…)
The company’s latest report* states that China, the largest single wind power market, responsible for 45% of total global annual capacity additions in 2013, is expected to have a cumulative wind capacity of 239.7 GW by 2020. China overtook the US as the leading market for installations in 2010, when it added a massive 18.9 GW of wind capacity.
Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Alternative Energy, says:
China doubled its cumulative wind capacity every year from 2006 to 2009 and has continued to grow significantly since then. Supportive government policies, such as an attractive concessional program and the availability of low-cost financing from banks, have been fundamental to China’s success.
While China will continue to be the largest global wind power market through to 2020, growth for the forecast period will be slow due to a large installation base.
The report also states that the US will remain the second largest global wind power market in terms of cumulative installed capacity, increasing from 68.9 GW in 2014 to 104.1 GW in 2020.
This will largely be driven by renewable energy targets in several states, such as Alaska’s aim to reach 50% renewable power generation and Texas’ mandate to achieve 10 GW of renewable capacity, both by 2025.
The slump in 2013 was largely a product of a decrease in installations in the US and Spain. While there are likely to be further slight falls in annual capacity additions in 2015 and 2016, overall industry growth will not be affected as global annual capacity additions are expected to exceed 60 GW by 2020.