China to launch rural pilot scheme for renewables


China is moving forward with plans to accelerate the already rapid deployment of renewable energy by developing clean energy in rural areas under a new action plan unveiled by authorities on March 23.

China’s provincial governments are expected to identify counties they consider suitable for the renewable energy pilot scheme, and submit development plans to the National Energy Administration (NEA) by the end of May, the NEA said in a statement.

The scheme proposed a target that renewable energy will account for more than 30% of total primary energy consumption and over 60% of new capacity primary energy consumption in the pilot counties by 2025.

The scheme also called on local authorities to "deregulate" and improve administration of their renewable energy industries.

China aims to have renewable power accounted for more than 50% of its electricity generation capacity by 2025, with much of this to be installed in sparsely populated, largely rural regions such as Inner Mongolia and Gansu province.

In 2022, China’s wind and solar power output surged by 21% to 1,190 TWh, according to data from NEA, while residential electricity demand rose by 14% to 1,340 TWh as people mostly stayed at home due to the zero-Covid policy. 

Despite the surge in Chinese wind and solar power installations and generation, the Chinese industry accounts for around 60% of all electricity demand, according to Bloomberg’s estimates. Residential demand, on the other hand, was just 17% of electricity consumption in 2020.

China is speeding up the rollout of solar and wind capacity additions, and it is likely that it will hit its 2030 renewable energy target earlier than planned, South China Morning Post reported earlier this year. At least 30 Chinese provinces have unveiled more ambitious renewable installation programs.

China’s renewable power installations will continue to see robust growth this year after the jump in capacity additions in 2022 on strong demand, lower raw-material costs, and a low-base effect for wind power, Fitch Ratings said in a report in February. 

Goldman Sachs’ report released earlier this month also forecasts China’s solar and wind capacity will reach 3,300 GW by 2030, far exceeding the government's target of 1,200 GW.

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