China sets clean energy records as coal slumps
Cameron Jewell | 1 March 2016
China installed 32.5 gigawatts of wind in 2015 and 18.3GW of solar in 2015, both clean energy world records, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Meanwhile, coal consumption slumped 3.7 per cent and net imports dropped a massive 30.4 per cent.
“The latest figures confirm China’s record-breaking shift toward renewable power and away from coal,” IEEFA director of energy finance studies Tim Buckley said.
“Solar and wind continue to be the big winners, as illustrated by a 73.7 per cent increase in grid-connected solar generation capacity. Declining consumption coupled with an over-abundance of domestic supply, meaning coal imports into China were particularly badly hit, dropping 30.4 per cent year over year.”
Mr Buckley said the transformation of global electricity markets was happening faster than expected.
“China’s official 2015 wind installations are an all time global record of 32.5GW, 30 per cent ahead of even the most optimistic forecasts by financial markets made only a year ago,” he said.
“The National Bureau of Statistics also reported 18.3GW of grid-connected solar installations in 2015, again surpassing the previous world record of 12.9GW set by China in 2013. The 14.9GW of hydro electricity and 6.0GW of nuclear capacity installs by China in 2015 round out a year of rapid grid generation diversification.”
The IEEFA is forecasting an additional 22GW of wind, 16GW of hydro, 6GW of nuclear and 18GW of solar (60 per cent utility scale and 40 per cent rooftop).
“With electricity demand forecast to grow by 3.0-3.5 per cent year over year in 2016, this 62GW of additional zero carbon electricity capacity will be more than sufficient to meet total electricity demand growth, such that coal consumption is forecast to fall again in 2016.”
The news comes as China earmarks 1000 coal mines for closure, according to Reuters.
The National Energy Administration said the closures were part of a plan to cut up to 500 million metric tons of surplus production capacity within the next three to five years.
China is also working to tackle its smog issues, with Xinhua reporting that Chinese government departments would increase electric vehicle purchases to about 50 per cent of procurements.
According to Xinhua, Beijing is also working to develop a network of “ventilation corridors” to help ameliorate the city’s smog problem. The city will plan five large corridors, up to 500 metres wide, and several smaller ones, to improve air flow and disperse smog, deputy head of Beijing’s urban planning committee Wang Fei said.