Climate change: China's renewable energy expansion offers optimism on warming

According to a new study, wind and solar power are flourishing in China and may help reduce global carbon emissions much more quickly than anticipated.

Solar panel installation growth alone would increase global capacity by 85 percent by 2025. The report indicates that the nation's green energy goals for 2030 are likely to be met five years early.

According to the authors, the number of coal facilities is also growing, in part as a fallback for all the new wind and solar farms. China is frequently viewed as the key to global efforts to curb carbon emissions, the fundamental cause of climate change.

The country is the largest consumer of coal in the globe, primarily for producing electricity. Coal is responsible for most of China's carbon dioxide emissions. This new study demonstrates, however, that China is rapidly expanding its wind and solar power generation capacity, which could have a significant impact on mitigating the effects of rising temperatures.

Global Energy Monitor (GEM), an independent research body whose work is frequently utilized by the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and governments, has conducted the research.

The report examines China's present green energy capacity, as well as what has been announced and is under construction for the next two years. The report discloses that China has more solar panels installed in large-scale projects than the rest of the world combined. Since 2017, the country's wind energy capacity has multiplied. However, this appears to be just the beginning. According to GEM, China is swiftly expanding this sector and will more than double its wind and solar capacity by 2025's end.

This current expansion is the culmination of over two decades of planning. During this period, China has become the world's leading supplier of solar panels, lowering prices throughout the entire supply chain. This has helped make solar and wind installations in China competitive economically.

Subsidies and regulations requiring each province to meet green energy objectives have contributed. China was responsible for the majority of the over half a trillion dollars spent worldwide on wind and solar energy last year.

President Xi Jinping stated in 2020 that China would deploy more than 1,200 gigawatts of solar and wind energy by 2030. This new report indicates that this objective will be met five years ahead of schedule. Martin Weil, one of the report's authors, believes that the increase in renewable energy construction provides a solid foundation for peaking [China's] carbon emissions before 2030.

However, while this could be good news for restricting global warming, China's coal consumption remains a formidable obstacle.

China constructed approximately two new coal-fired power plants per week in 2022. Many of these were located on new solar and wind parks, often to provide backup power and to assure the continuity of energy supply. "The key question moving forward is how these coal plants will be deployed," said Mr. Weil.

One expects that they are deployed in a manner that maximizes the proportion of renewable energy to coal. China's effective transition away from coal will also be aided by the development of battery storage and the expansion of hydrogen production, two additional key indicators.