China’s energy revolution: Coal powerhouse steps up green ambition

China's transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway, as the country is projected to overtake the US as the world's leading wind-power producer in 2016 and also looks set to increase its 'clean coal' capacity by 508GW over the next 10 years.

The figures come from a new report by consultancy firm GlobalData, which also revealed that China already has more installed wind capacity than the US, but currently sees lower output thanks to slower winds and inadequate grid infrastructure.

In November last year the two countries agreed a bi-partite climate deal which will see China cap its emissions by 2030.

GlobalData’s Power analyst Pranav Srivastava said: “In terms of annual installations, the Chinese wind industry has proven to be more stable than the US, as the latter’s annual installations rely heavily upon government incentives, which are often under speculation.

As a result, China added about 18 GW of new installed wind capacity in 2014, whereas the US only added around 4.9 GW.


China’s current reliance on coal is projected to continue – it burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world put together – but Government policies are prioritizing growth in clean coal, where the ash and soot is removed from emissions, and the carbon dioxide pumped underground.

GlobalData forecasts China’s clean coal capacity to increase by 508GW between 2016 and 2025, during which period the market is expected to generate approximately $1,141 billion.

“These additions will be driven by new power plants, all of which will be equipped with clean coal technology, and by retrofit projects at older plants, “said senior analyst for Power, Sowmyavadhana Srinivasan.

Whilst many environmental groups dismiss carbon capture as ‘the coal industry’s attempt to stay relevant’, it could represent a way for China to limit the impact of fossil fuel burning – which is so important to economy –while it also steps up its renewable energy generation.

Brad Allen

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