BEIJING: China’s new wind capacity reached a record high in 2015, with a jump of more than 60% compared to the previous year, according to official data released yesterday.
The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) stated that the country added 32.97 gigawatts of in 2015, according to state news agency Xinhua. Although data is not yet available, previously NEAreported that China's wind power capacity could have hit 120 gigawatts in 2015.
In total, wind power generated 186.3 Terawatt-hours of electricity last year, comprising 3.3% of China’s total electricity energy production, the data shows.
However, the country is the biggest consumer and producer of coal in the world. Coal still dominates China’s energy mix – accounting for two thirds of primary energy consumption, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2015. To put this number in perspective, oil accounted for 17.5% and natural gas for 5.6% of the mix.
Such high dependency on coal means that one of the country’s biggest issues is air pollution, a problem particularly felt in its big cities. In 2014, China’s Premier Li Keqiang declared a ‘war on pollution’, a pledge reiterated last year when the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Finance Ministry released a 2015-2020 action plan on the efficient use of coal, vowing to slash its consumption by 160 million tons.
China has already started to leave behind its coal dependence, announcing it will peak CO2 emissions by 2030 – and much analysis brings this date forward still. Coal demand in the country fell by 2.9% in 2014 and 5.0% in the first half of 2015.
“With falling costs of renewables and the high costs of fossil fuels, a structural change is underway in China and beyond,” comments Changhua Wu, China Director, The Climate Group. “Today in China, people care about the environment and feel a collective urgency to find solutions. However, reaching such ambitious target requires steadfast and continued efforts to really instill the clean revolution at the heart of how political leaders govern the country.”
SHIFT TO RENEWABLES
The Chinese government, in an effort to switch from coal to renewable energies, set a target for non-fossil sources to reach 11.4% of the energy consumption mix by 2015. Last year, China exceeded its goal reaching 12%, up by 0.8% compared to 2014. The government has since set an ambitious target of 20% by 2030.
Furthermore, China is the world’s leader in clean energy investment. A recent report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that in 2015 the country invested more than US$110 billion, almost doubling US investment of US$56 billion.
Increasing corporate appetite for renewables in China is also being shown through The Climate Group’sRE100 campaign. This is a collaborative global initiative of leading businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity, and includes Chinese companies Elion Resources Group and BROAD Group, both blazing a trail on renewables.
At the same time, The Climate group has been working with the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association – CREIA – to develop a capacity building program to help many more companies build more renewables into their corporate strategies, whatever their end goal may be.
“Switching to renewables is a win-win for companies,” concludes Changhua Wu, “providing a reputational boost internationally, while helping China deliver on its ambitious climate commitments.”