Sunday, May 31, 2015

China’s Investment in Renewables Soars by a Third

Despite a slowdown in its economy and the continued reliance on coal, China is pumping billions of dollars into its renewable energy industry.

Hydropower stations such as the Three Gorges Dam are a major source of China’s renewable energy. (Image Credit: Kathy via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
China invested more than US$89 billion in renewable energy projects in the country in 2014 – a growth of 31% on the previous year, according to a detailed report on the country’s energy sector.

The soaring increase is revealed in a report by the US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). But it adds that fossil fuels - particularly coal - still look set to continue to dominate China’s power sector.

Coal is by far the most polluting fossil fuel, and China is the world’s leading emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Wind power production went up by nearly 40% in the 2012-13 period.  Although there are still big gaps in the transmission infrastructure, the aim is to generate 200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from wind by 2020.

Government subsidies
“China is also aggressively investing in solar power and hopes to increase capacity from 15 GW at the end of 2013 to 100 GW by the end of 2020,” says the EIA.  Substantial government subsidies have helped to fuel growth in the solar sector.

The EIA says similar levels of expansion are happening in other non-fossil fuel industries, in line with the Beijing government’s goal of producing 15% of total energy consumption from non-fossil fuels by 2020.

A large-scale hydroelectricity program continues, with dams being constructed throughout the country.

“Because of its cost effectiveness and sizeable resource potential, hydroelectricity has become China’s key source of renewable energy generation,” says the EIA’s analysis.

At present, China produces 230 GW of power from hydro, accounting for about 8% of total energy consumption.  The goal is to increase this to 350 GW over the next five years.

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