Clean Power

Published on April 10th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Renewable Energy Now Growing Faster than Coal in China

April 10th, 2010 by  


New official stats from China show that renewable energy capacity is growing faster than coal now.

By the end of 2010, hydro, nuclear and wind power should account for 26% of the country’s electricity generation, providing about 250 GW of capacity. “Thermal power”, largely coal-fired power stations, accounts for about 700 GW of capacity. However, 96 GW of the China’s 178 GW of new power capacity will be from renewables in 2010, compared to 80 GW from thermal power. So, the tide may be changing.

Examing where the changes are occurring, Tom Young of Business Green reports:

“Two of the five major players in the energy market are leading the way. China Power Investment Corp reportedly increased its clean electricity output to 30 per cent of its total in 2009, while Huaneng has also raised its installed capacity of clean energy to account for 15 per cent of all the power it produces.

Officials also announced today that the installed capacity of wind power in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region grew over 40 times to 7.3GW by the end of March from 170MW in 2005.

The region has the most abundant wind resources in China, but to date development has been hindered by poor grid connections in the remote area. However, now 20 per cent of power in the area is generated by wind – a level comparable to renewable energy leaders such as Norway and Denmark.”

China is clearly taking its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions seriously, as if its hundreds of billions dollars of investment in the world’s largest clean energy projects didn’t already tell you that.

Comparing the current energy split in the US with China’s, data from the EIA shows that the US currently gets about 31% of its electricity from hydro, nuclear and renewable energy and 45% from coal. The two countries are in a similar situation. Hopefully, despite using different methods, both countries can cut that coal percentage down drastically in the years to come.

via TreeHugger & Business Green

Image Credit: DonDomingo via flickr under a CC license

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Jeff

    @Christopher Mims

    “China’s renewable power is growing faster than its coal fired power because China has basically maxed out the rate at which it can extract coal from the ground.”

    Where is your supporting statistic for this conclusion? Please show us something, a report, a news item, a twit, whatever, anything that says China has maxed out its coal extraction capabilities.

  • Raúl E. Viñas

    How come that nuclear is listed among renewables?

    It is surely better suited to be included among Thermal sources. In fact nuclear plantas are really Thermonuclear plants where fission is used to heat water and generate steam.

    Anyway no new “Thermonuclear” plants are expected to go online in China during 2010.

    • i thought the same, basically. but that’s how it was categorized.. thought maybe i was missing something, but like you said, not that it makes a real difference in these numbers

  • Christopher Mim’s comments are self contradictory and means little.

    Fossil fuels are a finite resources all over the world.

    Whole world has maxed out the rate at which any country can extract coal.

    I am not sure why he says that renewable power would do more environmental damage via extraction of what other resources?

    Renewable energy plants are based on Air, wind or Sun

    Extraction of these resources does not do any harm to any one.

    Finally, China’s renewable power is growing faster because they can afford the infra structure needed. Unlike western world they are not debt ridden country.

  • juangault

    It’s SO cute seeing a little Chinese girl wrapped in a flag. One thing maybe not mentioned in the “official statistics” is the ramp-up of hydroelectric power from the world’s largest dam.

    When talking to/about China, be mindful of their two pit bulls, DPRK and Myranmar.

    Maybe it’s bad to choose sides and be absolute, but there is this American effort to prevent a nuclear arms race in the middle east. We can count on China to help out in this regard.

  • “China is clearly taking its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions seriously,”

    Your statistics are correct, but your conclusion is not.

    China’s renewable power is growing faster than its coal fired power because China has basically maxed out the rate at which it can extract coal from the ground. This is the same reason why they placed restrictions on provinces turning coal into liquid fuels.

    China is going all out on renewable energy because fossil fuels are a finite resource. I’m sure that if they had more coal — cheap, effective coal — they’d burn still more of it.

    In this way, it’s entirely possible that China’s renewable power resources will simply enable the country to sustain its current growth and ultimately do even more environmental damage (via extraction of other resources) not to mention burning evey last chunk of coal they have access to.

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