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China On Track to Meet Clean Energy Target Five Years Ahead of Schedule: Study

CRISIS - Atmospheric CO2 Levels by Martina IginiJul 3rd 20233 mins
China On Track to Meet Clean Energy Target Five Years Ahead of Schedule: Study

Record-breaking renewable energy deployment in recent years has put China on track to reach its 2030 clean energy target in two years’ time.

China, already the global leader in renewable energy, is on track to double its wind and solar capacity by 2025 and reach its clean energy target five years ahead of schedule, a new study has found.

According to the non-profit Global Energy Monitor’s (GEM) annual report on utility-scale solar and wind power facilities, the rapid renewable energy deployment across China over the past 15 years has brought the country to the top of the global wind and solar leaderboard. Each of the two energy sources currently accounts for more than one-third of the world’s cumulative installed capacity, the report said.

Despite being the world’s largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas producer, China has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy in recent years. According to GEM, solar capacity in the country – which is mostly concentrated in the northern and northwest provinces of Shanxi, Xinjiang, and Hebei – currently stands at 228 GW, more than the rest of the world combined. Wind expansion has also accelerated recently, doubling from 2017 to 310 GW. Offshore wind alone exceeds Europe’s operating capacity and accounts for about 10% of the country’s total wind capacity.

low carbon share energy in china 2022

China has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy in recent years. Image: Our World in Data.

solar and wind energy deployment in china 2022

China is currently hosting nearly half of the world’s total operating wind and solar capacity. Image: Global Energy Monitor.

Taking into account planned solar and wind installations between now and 2025, GEM concludes that it is “highly likely” that the provincial targets for wind and solar will be achieved. However, despite the quick deployment of clean energy, coal remains by far the largest energy source in China and is not expected to become a “truly supporting” power source any time soon. 

Last year, the government ramped up coal production in response to a historic heatwave and drought – the worst in more than six decades – which compromised hydroelectricity production in the country. A report compiled by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and published earlier this year showed that in 2022, China approved a record number of coal-fired plants, the equivalent of all the UK’s plants combined and the highest since 2015.

Moreover, China is striking new long-term deals to buy natural gas, indicating that its dependency on fossil fuels is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

“China is making strides, but with coal still holding sway as the dominant power source, the country needs bolder advancements in energy storage and green technologies for a secure energy future,” said Martin Weil, a GEM researcher.

china energy mix 2022

In 2021, coal accounted for almost 55% of China’s total energy mix. Image: Our World in Data.

While China’s progress on renewables is unmatched, clean energy is rapidly expanding around the world. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the power sector is set for a “tipping point” on its carbon dioxide emissions, as renewables and other cleaner sources – including nuclear energy – are on track to cover most of the new global electricity demand by 2025.

You might also like: Top 5 Environmental Issues in China in 2023

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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