In a series of national actions for its energy sector to address air pollution, China has released a new and updated target for renewable energy development, which will see its installed solar power triple by 2017.
The announcement was made in early May via the National Development and Reform Commission website.
2015 targets are reaffirmed at 290GW for hydro, 100GW for wind and 35GW for solar, while 2017 targets for them are refreshed respectively at 330GW, 150GW and 70GW. Specifically for solar, there is consideration for further elevation to 100GW by 2020. Currently, China is planning to add over 10GW every year (2014 target is 14GW), and there’s only 3 countries in the world (besides China) that have equipped over that annual amount for their total solar installation.
If China successfully delivers its ambition – and it does have a strong record for that – China will have around 40% of power capacity from non-fossil fuels, and clean, sustainable renewable energy will make up around 13% of its total primary energy mix.
The announcement indicated that incentives will be made available to companies and regions to encourage them to use renewable energy. Also included in the announcement were new regulations aimed at further reducing emissions as part of its strategy.
China is the world’s largest emitter of CO2, and also leads the world in renewable energy installations. So the announcement that it intends to significantly increase its renewable energy installations is good news.
“It is fascinating to see China, which already has a strong and constant ambition for renewable energy, announce its intention to scale up in a fast and steady way. WWF believes that by transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy, China could fundamentally alleviate its severe air pollution, while critically control and reduce its fast growing carbon emission.”
“The impact of doubling its solar installations in such a short time is likely to also set the pace globally for increased renewables as a share of the global energy source. And this bodes well for the enhanced ambition and action required for a new global climate deal in 2015.”
To address its growing pollution problems, China is also mainstreaming its fossil fuel control. More developed economic centers in China, such as Beijing and its surrounding area, Yangtze River delta, and the Pearl River delta, are reducing coal consumption, and hopefully this could lead to soon carbon emission peak in these regions. With this leadership established, WWF strongly believes China should peak its fossil fuel consumption (coal in particular) soon for domestic environmental/social benefit and to peak its carbon emission fast enough to keep its carbon budget under a 2/1.5 degree climate framework.
Liangchun Deng is a senior programme officer for climate and energy at WWF-China LCHDeng@wwfchina.org