China is on track to double its wind and solar power capacity and reach its 2030 clean energy targets five years early, a new report has found.
The country is expected to produce 1,200 GW of solar and wind energy by 2025 if all prospective plants are built and commissioned, according to the study from Global Energy Monitor.
Solar capacity in China is now bigger than the rest of the world combined. Its onshore and offshore wind capacity has doubled since 2017, roughly equal to the combined total of the other top seven countries, according to the report.
The report indicated that China’s renewable energy boom is the result of a combination of incentives and regulations. The country pledged in 2020 to achieve carbon neutral by 2060.
However, while China may have become the global leader in renewable energy, the world’s biggest producer of global-warming pollution is also increasing coal production.
“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,” the researcher at Global Energy Monitor, Martin Weil said.
Coal power permitting in China accelerated rapidly in 2022 when new permits hit their highest level since 2015, according to a report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and the Global Energy Monitor.
The report says that the amount of new coal projects permitted was about two large coal plants a week.
China turned to coal last year mostly because of disastrous heat waves and drought, the worst in six decades, which saw a surging demand for power at the same time as hydropower capacity sank as rivers ran dry.
China’s reliance on coal poses a huge challenge to global green energy targets, but the pace of wind and solar development is a positive sign, Byford Tsang, senior policy adviser at climate think tank E3G said.
“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,” Tsang said.
He hopes that relative cheapness of renewable energy will persuade China to kick its coal habit.
According to a report from ERG, the IEA in 2021 pointed out that no new coal fired power plants can be built, and no new oil and gas be developed, if the world is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.