China on Course to Reach Solar and Wind Power Goals Five Years Ahead of Schedule
China’s central government has set a target of 1,200 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale wind and solar capacity by 2030, but a new Global Energy Monitor (GEM) report says the country is set to double its current capacity and meet the goal five years early, a GEM press release said.
Prospective projects that have already been announced or are in construction or pre-construction equal about 371 GW of wind capacity and 379 GW of solar capacity — approximately the same amount as the currently installed operating capacity of China, according to the Global Solar and Wind Power Trackers.
“This new data provides unrivaled granularity about China’s jaw-dropping surge in solar and wind capacity. As we closely monitor the implementation of prospective projects, this detailed information becomes indispensable in navigating the country’s energy landscape,” said Dorothy Mei, project manager at GEM, in the press release.
Almost all of the prospective capacity is included in the Chinese government’s Five-Year Plan for 2021 to 2025. It is enough to expand large solar installations by more than 85 percent and to increase wind capacity worldwide by almost half.
China’s prospective wind capacity is about one-fifth of the global total, and its prospective solar capacity is three times that of the United States.
“China is rapidly and successfully scaling up its deployment of renewable power and has become the largest investor into renewables globally. This is both a cause and consequence of rapidly falling costs of renewable energy as compared to coal power,” Byford Tsang, senior policy adviser at climate think tank E3G, told CNN.
Last year, in response to severe heat waves and its worst drought in 60 years, China increased its coal capacity as rivers dried up, limiting hydropower at the same time as power demand increased.
This month, China’s hybrid solar-hydro power plant Kela, which can produce enough power for more than 700,000 homes and is the largest in the world, began operations, reported The Guardian.
The Global Solar and Wind Power Trackers showed that large utility-scale solar in China is 228 GW, which is more capacity than the entire rest of the planet.
China’s offshore wind capacity is currently 31.4 GW, which is about 10 percent of the total wind capacity of the country and more than the total operating offshore wind capacity of Europe, the press release said.
China approved more coal power in the first quarter of this year than in all of 2021, The Guardian reported.
“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, researcher at GEM, in the press release.