China amps up renewables targets

Clare Saxon Ghauri
1 September 2011

BEIJING: China has stepped-up its intentions to expand renewable energy installations during the 12th Five-Year Plan period, by rewriting its plans to encompass much bigger capacity targets for wind, solar and hydro power

The long-awaited plan - which will be officially rolled-out soon - maps a swell in clean energy capacity to over 9.5% by 2015, of which the Government hopes will attract new investment.

Hydro power will rise from the originally planned 250 GW to 260 GW, wind power from 90 GW to 100 GW, and total installations of solar power from 5GW to 10 GW.

These enhanced targets will still help China meet its goals of 11.4% non-fossil energy in the total energy mix goals by 2015, and 20% by 2020, the figures of which were announced in March in the Outline of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan

With the adjustments, the latest renewable energy installations targets (GW) now stand at: 

                  Targets disclosed early 2011      Latest targets   
 Hydropower                250                                  260   
 Wind                              90                                   100   
 Solar                               5                                     10   
 Bio-energy                   13                                    13   
 Geothermal                 N/A                                  0.1   
 Tidal wave                   N/A                              0.01-0.02   

These national targets are predicted to be interpreted at regional level after the plan is officially released.

Although China is emerging as one of the world’s fastest-growing renewable energy markets, Chinese state media have suggested that these target adjustments were made in light of China’s failed attempts to achieve its 11th Five-Year Plan renewable energy goals.

Learning from last year’s overestimations, these new targets take into account demand-side consumption of electricity to be generated, as well as grid capacity.

The amendments could also have been made as a result of Japan’s recent earthquake-caused nuclear disaster. China already leads in global solar and wind development, so these technologies are likely to absorb the set 11.4% non-fossil target by 2015 instead of nuclear, of which reduced demand is expected since the earthquake.

According to the wind energy plan, by the end of the 2015, the accumulated distributional wind energy is expected to reach 250 GW, which is a quarter of all the wind energy to the grid. Solar energy through distributional model is also expected to reach 2GW, up to 20% of total solar energy installations.

As well as solar PV and wind, the Government’s plans are also focusing on off-shore wind, concentrated solar power (CSP), geothermal, tidal wave and oceanic energy. This owes in part to the fact that by 2015, off-shore wind energy is expected to account for 5% of total installed wind power, and CSP is expected to quadruple the previous target set for 2020.

It is expected that the Chinese Government will continue to push for renewable energy development via direct energy trading between renewable energy companies and end-users, to aid the adoption of more reasonable clean energy pricing.

Li Junfeng, Deputy Director-General, Energy Research Institute of NDRC said: “China will continue its determination to develop renewable energy in these coming five years, and more efforts and resources will be devoted to furthering its development in the future.”

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group says: “With the roll-out of more supportive industrial policies and more reasonable and easily implementable guideline details, more commercial opportunities will come from renewable energy sector development in China.”

Report: Delivering Low Carbon Growth: A Guide to China's 12th Five Year Plan

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