China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) unveiled a new road map last Wednesday stating that the government plans to double wind and solar capacity by 2025 while granting licenses for more coal-fired power plants to bolster energy security.
The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide has vowed to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 and to peak emissions by 2030. It previously predicted that it would need to double its wind and solar use by 2030 to meet its climate pledges. If the latest strategy is carried out, the country may be able to meet that target sooner.
According to the National Energy Administration’s (NEA) data, total power use in China reached 8.31 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2021, with renewable energy accounting for 29.8%, or 2.48 trillion KWh of electricity.
In a paper released last Wednesday, the country’s chief economic planner stated that renewable energy will reach approximately 3.3 trillion KWh by2025, supplying 33% of the national grid.
Solar energy investment nearly tripled in the first four months of the year to 29 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion) from January to April of the previous year, the NEA data showed.
However, China’s energy policy has remained a two-headed beast, with the country burning about half of all coal consumed worldwide each year to power its economy. As the Russia-Ukraine conflict drives up oil and gas prices, Beijing has increased its reliance on coal-fired power facilities in recent months to bolster its ailing economy.
In 2021, China has committed to cutting coal consumption from 2026, but local governments began constructing new power plants last year, increasing coal capacity by the most since 2016, when an energy crisis paralyzed large swaths of the economy.
In addition, in an emergency meeting last week to address economic concerns, Premier Li Keqiang said coal anchored China’s energy security, and the central bank approved a 100-billion-yuan (US$15 billion) credit line to assist coal mining and coal-fired plants.