China is trying to stop being one of the world’s biggest polluter as it boosted solar and wind energy capacity by 74 percent and 34 percent respectively in 2015. Moreover, it managed to decrease coal consumption by 3.7 percent.
The figures were released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics this week, and according to Clean Technica website, experts believe that government’s carbon emissions targets will be reached sooner than expected. According to Clean Technica, China has already achieved two new records in 2015, installing a record 32.5 percent of wind in 2015, and a record 18.3 GW of solar in 2015.
“The latest figures confirm China’s record-breaking shift toward renewable power and away from coal,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and added. “Solar and wind continue to be the big winners, as illustrated by a 73.7% increase in grid-connected solar generation capacity. Declining consumption coupled with an over-abundance of domestic supply, meaning coal imports into China were particularly badly hit, dropping 30.4% yoy.”
“IEEFA forecasts that China will install an additional 22 GW of wind, 16GW of new hydro, another 6GW of nuclear, and 18GW of solar in 2016,” explained Buckley and stressed that “coal consumption is forecast to fall again in 2016.”
In 2015 coal consumption declined by 3.7 percent, compared with 2014, and coal imports dropped by 30.4 percent year-over-year, down to 198.7 million tonnes. This trend will most probably continue into 2016, as January’s net coal imports dropped by 11.6 percent year-over-year.
On February 22, the Global Wind Energy Council reported that China officially surpassed the European Union and it is now the leader in the global wind power sector producing 145.10 GW. However, judging on percentage capacity, China had the largest installed electricity generation capacity in the world with 1505 GW with some 80 percent coming from coal.
China’s changing economic model
The Chinese government is trying to change the Chinese economic model, focusing on the production of quality products and boosting services and domestic demand.
On 2 March, the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources announced that close to 1.3 million workers in the coal and steel industries will be laid off because authorities want to reduce industrial overcapacity and dependence on fossil fuels.
On 7 March, Chinese news agency Xinhua interview Chen Fengying, world economy researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations who said that the new Chinese economic model will help the global economy.
“China has been the powerhouse of the world for decades. In the next five years, ballooning domestic demand, investment and buying power will further vitalize the global economy,” Chen said.