China’s renewables revolution surges towards 1TW milestone

The world's largest polluting nation is cementing its position as a global green energy powerhouse, with new figures revealing that China's production of renewable energy systems has swelled global capacity to 913 GW.

The Global Renewable Energy Recap 2015 report from research and consulting firm GlobalData reveals that China has consolidated its position as the leading installer of solar power by surging past two set capacity targets to generate more than 18GW in capacity.

GlobalData’s practice head for power Ankit Mathur said: “China became the largest consumer of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in 2014, overtaking both Japan and the US. China’s annual solar PV installations have grown rapidly over the past few years, from 500 Megawatts in 2010, to 10.6 GW in 2014, and an estimated 18.43 GW in 2015.

“In 2014, Japan and the US stood second and third, with annual solar PV installations of about 10 GW and 6.2 GW, respectively. However, both countries added an estimated 8.2 GW each in 2015.”

The GlobalData research finds that the global renewable installed capacity stood at 797GW in 2014, and is expected to increase to 913GW in 2015.

Globally, the report highlights that the climate change policy talks in Paris have locked in ambitious targets for countries to reach, and that emerging markets are leading the way. It states that European and North American markets still historically have the best track records for renewables growth. However the emergence of a legally-binding climate deal and the desire of emerging markets to catch-up have seen them dwarfed over the last 12 months.

The report notes that countries such as China, India, Mexico, Republic of Korea and Brazil are becoming key players in the growth of renewable energy generation which is expected to surpass 1.5TW in the next four years.

Global renewable installations built in 2014 overtook coal and gas additions, and is expected to maintain this lead for the next year at least.

Challenge to opportunity

The report notes that China’s staggering growth in the renewable market was led largely by additions to solar, bio-power, onshore wind and hydropower additions as it strives to reach a 150GW capacity by 2020.

This is despite the country’s National Development and Reform Commission confirming cuts – albeit reduced – to onshore feed-in-tariffs for any project approved between January 2015 and January 2016. It is yet unknown whether this will affect China’s ability to meet its new 23.1GW, set back on September which it missed out on at the time of publishing the report.

In order to increase capacity and lower pollution China – a study revealed that air pollution kills an average of 4,000 people every day – has recently unveiled a series of bold new climate commitments, including the creation of an emissions trading scheme and a $3.1bn low-carbon funding plan.

The Chinese government have signed an agreement with the UK to share knowledge and encourage investment in clean energy technologies in both countries.

Matt Mace

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