China’s solar and wind energy sectors could bring in investments amounting to as much as US$782 billion (RMB5.4 trillion) between 2016 and 2030 as a result of the country’s efforts to meet its renewable energy targets, a research report said.
The country has pledged to increase non-fossil fuel energy to at least 20% of its total consumption by the end of the next decade, up from 12% in 2015, part of its efforts to tackle air pollution and lower carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030.
To do that, China would need to raise the wind and solar power’s share of primary energy consumption to 17% by 2030, up from 4% in 2015, according to the report, published by Greenpeace and involving research by a government institute, a Chinese university, and other groups.
The wind and solar power could reduce fossil fuel consumption by nearly 300 million tons of standard coal a year by the end of 2030, equivalent to France’s total primary energy consumption in 2015, the report said, assuming China met its targets.
In its 2016-2020 “five-year plan” for renewables, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) laid out a plan to raise total wind generation capacity from 129 gigawatts (GW) in 2015 to more than 210 GW in 2020, with solar power set to rise from 43.18 GW to 110 GW over the same period.
Total renewable capacity, including hydropower, would rise to 680 GW, 27% of the national total and up from around 480 GW in 2015, the NDRC said.
The NDRC itself projected its plans would require a total investment of 2.5 trillion yuan on solar, wind and other renewables just over the period between 2016 and 2020.
However, the agency warned the country’s electricity distribution system was still not flexible enough to handle renewable power, and there were still technological obstacles when it came to connecting wind and solar power to the grid, leading to large amounts of waste.
According to figures released last month by China’s Electric Power Planning and Engineering Institute (EPPEI), 49.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind power failed to make it to the grid in 2016, up from 33.9 billion kWh in 2015 and amounting to 17% of total wind power generation.
Greenpeace said it worked with the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA), the NDRC’s Energy Research Institute (ERI), Tsinghua University and an environmental research group called Draworld, and then submitted the findings to independent experts.