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China’s energy transformation sees ‘stunning’ progress on renewables – and a boom in coal power

WorldEuropeChina's energy transformation sees 'stunning' progress on renewables – and a boom in coal power
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China is recognized as the undisputed global leader in renewable energy expansion.

Future Publications | Future Publications | Getty Images

China is making rapid progress in ramping up clean energy, temporarily raising hopes that the world’s biggest carbon emitter may soon begin to curb greenhouse gas pollution.

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A huge wave of permits for new coal-fired capacity poses a significant challenge to the country’s climate goals, according to Global Energy Monitor, with Beijing as “a spectacular exception to the ongoing global decline in coal plant growth”. Seen in

Research from Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and GEM published Data late last month showed China approved the most new coal-fired plants last year since 2015.

Beijing authorizes 106 gigawatts of new coal power capacity in 2022 four times more than a year ago And the equivalent of 100 large-power plants, the research said.

The extraordinary speed with which China approved projects was thought to have been driven by energy security reasons, namely after power shortages Historic drought and heat wave last summer,

Analysts at CREA and GEM said major additions of new coal-fired capacity may not necessarily mean that carbon emissions from the power sector in China will increase, especially given the country’s rapid progress in ramping up clean energy.

China was allowed 106 gigawatts of new coal power capacity in 2022, four times more than a year ago and the equivalent of 100 large-power plants.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

China is Recognized Adding new projects to the grid, as the undisputed global leader in renewable energy expansion almost as fast As the rest of the world combined in 2022.

The build-out comes as part of the government’s strategy to cut its energy intensity and reach peak emissions”in a planned and phased manner,

“When we look around the world today, we can strongly see that the energy transition is in progress,” said Mike Helmsley, deputy director of the Energy Transition Commission think tank.

“China is building renewable energy at such a rapid pace [that] It is said that they have exceeded the targets they set,” Helmsley said last week at International Energy Week in London. About 50% of all renewable energy created each year was made in China, he added.

“To put this into context, we’ve heard Masdar’s really commendable goal to have 100 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 [but] China is building about 75 gigawatts of wind every year and more than 100 gigawatts of solar power every year.

On its current trajectory, Helmsley said Beijing is on track to reach 1,800 gigawatts of total renewable energy by 2030. It will be 50% more than the Chinese President. Xi JinpingTarget of 1,200 GW of total renewable energy by the end of the decade.

“the implications of that being [that] They will outperform their nationally determined contributions, and their emissions are likely to peak before 2030, some say around 2025. [or] 2026,” Helmsley said, describing it as “really positive news”.

‘Anxiety on a warm, still summer’s evening’

international energy agency Said Earlier this month, while still rising, global carbon emissions may have at least reached a plateau.

Energy-related carbon emissions are set to rise by less than 1% in 2022 to a new high of more than 36.8 billion tonnes. The increase was lower than expected, as renewable energy helped limit the impact of global increases in coal and oil consumption. By comparison, global emissions from energy are projected to increase by 6% in 2021.

The IEA said China’s emissions were broadly flat in 2022 as economic growth weakened due to COVID-19 measures and a decline in construction activity.

“Having China’s emissions peak has an essential role in driving up and reducing global emissions – and the success of the overall global effort,” said Laurie Mylivirta, CREA principal analyst.

In 2020, China’s Xi announced plans for the world’s second-largest economy to peak carbon emissions in 2030 and strive for carbon neutrality by 2060.

Myllyvirta told CNBC via telephone that, depending on one’s point of view, China’s climate goals can be viewed as either inflexible or lacking in ambition, adding that it is important to keep in mind that they carry “a huge range of consequences.” series”.

“Grid planners believe there’s going to be some hours or days or weeks during the summer [when] They will need more coal-fired power plants,” Mylivirta said.

China’s power system relies on coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, to meet peak electricity loads and manage demand variability and clean power supplies.

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is the main driver of the climate crisis.

“A warm, still summer’s evening worries. Where are [they] Going to get enough power to keep the lights on? So they think they need more coal-fired power plants, because traditionally they meet demand in that situation,” Myliwirta said.

If China is going to meet its climate commitments – as CREA expects – the think tank says the country’s new coal power plants “will end up as short-lived and underutilized disinvestments.”

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