Biomass

Published on November 25th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill

32

IRENA Says China Can Nearly Quadruple Renewable Energy By 2030

November 25th, 2014 by  

REmap2030-1A new report published Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has shown that China can increase its use of renewable energy from 13% to 26% by 2030, representing a nearly fourfold increase if the economic powerhouse is able to pull it off.

“As the largest energy consumer in the world, China must play a pivotal role in the global transition to a sustainable energy future,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA, at a launch event in Beijing. “China’s energy use is expected to increase 60 per cent by 2030. How China meets that need will determine whether or not the world can curb climate change.”

The report, Renewable Energy Prospects: China, was compiled by IRENA in association with the China National Renewable Energy Centre, and is part of IRENA’s renewable energy roadmap, REmap 2030, which aims to provide a plan to double the global share of the renewable energy mix by 2030.

Following the recent announcement made between China and the US, this report (and others like it) acquire even more significance, as China looks to be actively seeking ways to increase its renewable energy share.

More is Needed than Business-as-Usual

“China can continue its leadership in renewable energy by accelerating action in this area,” said Mr. Amin. “If China acts now to implement more renewable energy, it can reduce air pollution, enhance energy security, benefit its economy, and play a leading role in fighting climate change.”

The report notes that current Chinese policies will only see the country’s renewable energy mix rise to account for 17% by 2030. A further annual investment of $145 billion is necessary to push renewable energies to 26% by 2030, representing an annual increase of $54 billion beyond business-as-usual investment. However, such a seemingly massive increase in investment actually yields an annual savings of $55 to $228 billion by 2030 when other factors are accounted for, such as human health and reduced emissions.

“REmap 2030 shows that China can achieve the energy revolution it’s aiming for – and that it can do so affordably,” said Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Center. “It also gives China a higher goal to aspire to, stating that an energy mix with 26 per cent renewables is achievable by 2030.”

Wind Growing to Match Hydro

China has seen steady and impressive growth over the last decade, with its installed renewable power generation capacity increasing each year.

Cumulative renewable power plant capacity in China

REmap2030-2

Hydroelectricity makes up a large part of China’s renewable energy capacity, but wind has been steadily increasing each year. In 2013, hydroelectric energy accounted for 85% of China’s total renewable energy power generation, but that’s a figure which is dropping each year as other forms of renewable energy increase. Wind power, for instance, has grown at a tremendous pace and sat at 77 GW of installed capacity in 2013.

Economic Growth and Renewable Energy

Fears that economic growth must be stifled in favour of cleaner, more renewable sources of energy have recently been laid to rest, thanks partially to another report published recently that focused on China. The study, China and the New Climate Economy, showed that “China can achieve economic development, energy security and reduce pollution at the same time.”

“The Global New Climate Economy Report which was launched this September provided strong evidence that economic growth could benefit from action on climate change,” said Chen Yuan, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, who is also a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “China and the New Climate Economy reinforces this message. It indicates that China can ensure healthy economic development, improve energy security and reduce climate risks through collaborative governance on economic, energy and environmental goals.”

As a result, reports such as IRENA’s Renewable Energy Prospects: China can now be taken with less fear and more hope. Solutions such as IRENA’s for renewable growth combined with the possibility of continued economic growth will help stem the fears of those who believe that America will be doing all the work, allowing China to simply continue as it has been.

2010 to 2030

The REmap analysis takes the reader through the last two decades and two decades into the future. According to its figures, coal consumption should flatten over the next two decades, and growth in solar, wind, bioenergy, and hydro will follow in line.

REmap2030-3

China’s total final energy consumption (TFEC) is expected to increase from 2010 levels of 57 EJ (exajoules) to 92 EJ in 2030, an increase of 60% over 20 years. However, total fossil fuel demand is expected to increase at a slower rate of 40% over the same period, with the remaining shortfall being covered by an increase in natural gas, with demand for coal only increasing 13%.

The REmap report’s Reference Case — which “represents policies in place or under consideration, including energy efficiency improvements” — sees renewable power generation increasing from approximately 800 TWh per year in 2010 to around 2600 TWh by 2030, with hydroelectricity generating 1600 TWh.

REmap2030-4

However, according to the REmap analysis, China’s renewable energy use in terms of TFEC could expand to approximately 23 EJ by 2030, approximately 26% in the share of TFEC.

REmap2030-5

The full report can be read here (PDF)


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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • Bob_Wallace

    If a 1,000 MW nuclear plant goes off line it needs 1,000 MW of something else to take its place. And sometimes nuclear plants go offline for a year or longer.

    You wrote a lot in response to my request to explain how nuclear can make fossil fuels go away faster than renewables. This seems to be your answer. The rest of your post seems to be fill.

    “if we changed every one of britain’s current fossil fuel power stations to nuclear (a mix of baseload and load following) right now, there wouldn’t be much else to change”

    Yes, that’s true. If we changed every one of Britain’s fossil plants to nuclear then Britain wouldn’t need to burn fossil fuels.

    Here’s the problem with your solution. It takes much longer to bring nuclear on line than it takes to bring renewables on line. (To say nothing of the much higher cost.)

    Nuclear has failed because it takes a long time to build and costs too much. (The danger issue is secondary.)

    • Vm

      \ It takes much longer to bring nuclear on line than it takes to bring renewables on line.\

      thats where planning comes in

      \If a 1,000 MW nuclear plant goes off line it needs 1,000 MW of something else to take its place.\

      thats not a common occurence unlike wind which as i posted before can go as low as 10% power for many many hours a year

      both problems can be mitigated by using small nuclear reactors

  • Bob_Wallace

    Ah! The mythical cheaper GenWhatever.

    When someone builds one then we can see what the electricity costs. In the meantime ask yourself why no one has already built some of this wonderful creation..

    That stuff is so tiring. The nuclear industry has been promising that they’ll do it right and get the price down the next time. They’ve been suckering people with that line for over a half century.

    Promise low, deliver high. I’ll show you a picture.

    And would you mind if we used more current (2014) industrial electricity prices – without taxes and levees? They’re from the same source as you used.

    France Eur 0.074/kWh
    Germany Eur 0.084/kWh

    As I stated –

    “France’s price for industrial electricity is just a little bit less than Germany’s and German wholesale prices are dropping as they add renewables and close down inefficient coal plants”

    • Vm

      \”France’s price for industrial electricity is just a little bit less
      than Germany’s and German wholesale prices are dropping as they add
      renewables and close down inefficient coal plants”\

      using industrial prices is a cheat. What if germany was able to reduce the industrial prices by shifting the burden to the residential electricity users? They don’t have the same amount lobbyists in parliament. Maybe the german government was afraid of the industrial consumers moving to other countries so they bent over backward to make the residential customers pay more?

      \When someone builds one then we can see what the electricity costs.\

      india’s kalpakkam 2 and russia’s BN-800 start commercial operation next year. both have quite cheap construction costs

  • Vm

    the problem with solar and wind is their intermittency. they cannot be a large percentage of the power gird without either backup power plants (why else do you think germany has lots of coal and imports electricity from nuclear nations like france?) or large scale energy storage. Thats why non carbon non intermittent power like hydro and nuclear still form a large percentage of the projected mix in 2030

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, yes, the fact that wind and solar are not available 24/365 is a problem. But every electricity generation has problems. And every generation plant needs backup. Nuclear can’t be a large percentage of the power grid without large scale energy storage.

      Why not nuclear and hydro rather than wind/solar and hydro? Price.

      Nuclear’s problems.

      1) It’s expensive.
      2) It can’t be “turned down”, load-follow without driving the cost even higher.
      3) It takes a long time to build.
      4) It’s hard to site due to cooling water needs and local opposition.
      5) It produces dangerous waste streams for which we have no permanent solution.

      Germany has a lot of coal for two reasons.

      1) Germany has no natural gas supplies.
      2) Germany started with a lot of coal. (Germany is under way toward making a massive cut in coal capacity.)

      • Vm

        \ And every generation plant needs backup.\
        but nuclear being baseload or load following needs less backup

        \Nuclear can’t be a large percentage of the power grid without large scale energy storage\

        and how did france do it? by using nuclear as both baseload and load following

        \2) It can’t be “turned down”, load-follow without driving the cost even higher.\
        but france does it and their electricity costs even taking into account taxes and levies are pretty low for europeans

        \3) It takes a long time to build.\
        thats why you plan ahead.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Let’s imagine we’re setting up a new grid. We can use (installed real world prices) –

          1 bunch of nuclear for $6.94/watt
          1 bunch of NG to back it up for $1.09/watt.

          Total $8.03/watt

          -or-

          1 bunch of wind for $1.63/watt
          1 bunch of solar for $1.81/watt
          1 bunch of NG to back them up for $1.09

          Total = $4.53/watt

          We’re starting out with a large handicap for the nuclear/NG option. Things close down once operating costs are included because the wind/solar/NG package uses more fuel. But unless we’re talking about an area with poor wind and solar resources nuclear won’t catch up.

          It gets even worse for nuclear/NG as we add low cost storage to the mix and cut back on NG use for wind/solar. EOS Energy battery storage would cost about $0.16/watt and would eliminate a lot of gas use. We’d have to add some more wind/solar to fill that storage, but it would be a net gain.

          How did France do it? They were in panic mode and worked really, really fast.

          France was using mostly petroleum to generate their electricity when OPEC formed and started jerking the world around. France had to do something, they didn’t have coal and wind/solar were way too expensive back then. So France went all out and built a bunch of reactors in a hurry.

          I’m not sure we’ve ever know how much France’s electricity actually cost since the government owns the utilities and has been pretty closed mouth about stuff like subsidies. But a few weeks ago we saw some interesting information.

          “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

          The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

          Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.

          http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2014/05/27/france-s-state-auditor-says-edf-s-nuclear-costs-are-increasing

          It’s costing France 7.5 cents to operate their reactors. That’s more than our reactors that are being shut down because they are too expensive.

          When you look at European electricity and fuel prices remember that retail prices are often artificially high due to taxes piled on top apparently to encourage efficiency.

          France’s price for industrial electricity is just a little bit less than Germany’s and German wholesale prices are dropping as they add renewables and close down inefficient coal plants.

          I’m not seeing it make much sense to plan ahead to spend more money when we can get busy right now, cut fossil fuel use quickly, and save money.

          • Vm

            \How did France do it? They were in panic mode and worked really, really fast.\

            so its possible

            \-or-

            1 bunch of wind for $1.63/watt
            1 bunch of solar for $1.81/watt
            1 bunch of NG to back them up for $1.09\

            might not be realistic since solar and wind require more backup

          • Bob_Wallace

            You even copied over “1 bunch of NG to back them up for $1.09”.

            If the wind isn’t blowing and the Sun is shining then the NG gets fired up.

            That. Is. Backup.

      • Vm

        \5) It produces dangerous waste streams for which we have no permanent solution.\

        there are reactor designs that transmute actinide wastes so they are only dangerous for a few hundred years

        even without those new reactor designs, storing the waste is less hazardous than putting all you eggs in one basket by betting everything on the possibility that wind and solar can solve the climate change crisis in time

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m sure the people who are dealing with our nuclear waste a few hundred years will be so happy that we left them with that mess when we didn’t need to.

          We don’t have to bet everything on wind and solar. We should include hydro, geothermal, tidal, biomass and biogas. Even wave if someone can work that out.

          I’m all for spending our money wisely and leaving as few problems for future generations as possible.

          • Vm

            \I’m sure the people who are dealing with our nuclear waste a few hundred
            years will be so happy that we left them with that mess when we didn’t
            need to.\
            by that time it would have decayed into stuff no omre harmful than uranium ore

            \We don’t have to bet everything on wind and solar. We should include
            hydro, geothermal, tidal, biomass and biogas. Even wave if someone can
            work that out.\|

            sure. no argument with me. use every tool including nuclear. most likely the future post fossil fuel world will be a mix of many power sources including renewables and nuclear

            \I’m all for spending our money wisely and leaving as few problems for future generations as possible.\

            and I dont want the future generations blaming us for using the renewables only route when it was too slow

          • Bob_Wallace

            In your previous comment you stated that radioactive waste from certain “designs” “are only dangerous for a few hundred years”.

            I’m sorry, it’s hard to take someone seriously when they wave away the very real problem of radioactive waste. It’s not all right to endanger future generations because we like nuclear energy.

            And it makes no sense to spend extra time and a lot of extra money building capacity that leaves other people holding our mess.

            Do you not know that wind farms are brought on line in less than two years. Large solar arrays start producing electricity in months. And it can take over a decade to fire up a new reactor? What you are calling for is delay.

          • Vm

            \ It’s not all right to endanger future generations because we like nuclear energy.\

            its also not alright to endanger future generations just because you dont like a technology which would make fossil fuels go away faster

            \Do you not know that wind farms are brought on line in less than two
            years. Large solar arrays start producing electricity in months. And
            it can take over a decade to fire up a new reactor? What you are
            calling for is delay.\

            the delay is not seen initially because with small amounts of intermittent power sources you can add them without worrying about backup (in country or imports) or large scale energy storage. Increase the amounts and then you need to worry about backup/storage.

            Some countries in europe were able to build large amounts of solar and wind only because backup via energy imports (some of it fossil fuel) from other countries is possible. This creates a demand for non-intermittent power used as backup. To meet the demand you are forced to keep pre existing non intermittent power plants, some of which are fossil fuel. For non intemittent power sources like nuclear and hydro however, you can build one then shut down one fossil fuel plant since both are non intermittent

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please explain how nuclear can make fossil fuels go away faster than renewables.

            I know you attempt to do that in the rest of your post but you seem to not know that nuclear requires backup. You seem to think that unique to renewables.

  • tibi stibi

    i think this is a conservative estimate. i think solar is going to be cheaper in china faster than in Europe or the USA.
    because they don’t have to add duties and their labour to install is cheaper.

    why would china use coal which will be more expensive over solar?

    • JamesWimberley

      They have already built the plants, and will now presumably stop adding new coal capacity. The marginal cost going forward is the fuel and O & M. It’s much harder for renewables anywhere to beat the cost of existing plants than of new ones. This will come, but not immediately from market forces alone. The wild card is whether China’s oligarchy will impose carbon taxes on coal to cut urban air pollution.

      • Kevin McKinney

        Don’t they already have a carbon market in the largest cities anyway? Thought I saw that here on CT, but it’s hard to keep up…

        😉

    • Bob_Wallace

      We were told a year ago that China was installing solar at $1/watt.

      “Yingli chief strategy officer Yiyu Wang said that project costs for its current pipeline of 130MW in utility-scale solar projects in China are about $1.03-$1.05 a watt.”

      “Wang suggested that Yingli would generate a return in the “higher mid teens” for these projects. “

      http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/12/how-the-solar-pv-industry-became-a-global-phenomenon/#comment-1045117247

      BTW, about the same time it was reported that solar was being installed in Italy for $1.33/watt. The US was a bit over $4.50/watt.

      Why would China use coal over solar?

      Solar and wind became affordable only recently. It takes a while for new information to be taken in and understood and then for that information to ‘turn great ships’.

  • David in Bushwick

    So coal will always be burned at record rates for decades to come. This information along with the previous one about Germany proves that kicking the coal habit is going to be very, very difficult.
    We need additional solutions.
    How about cutting energy use which is being wasted at a significant rate in most places. If the average home and business were able to cut their power use by a third, that would be significant. Every retail store, by the thousands, props their front doors wide open through the heat of summer and the cold of winter is one example.
    Relying on renewable energy to fulfill our current wasteful habits along with adding 2 billion more people requires all hands on deck.

    • Kevin McKinney

      The good news there is that energy efficiency is actually appearing in capacity auctions–the PJM and NYISO in the US, and the new Ontario ISO auction within the next couple of years. Demand reduction, too–and the submissions are almost bid out, because they are extremely cost effective.

      • Eric Gerber

        Interesting. Can you share a link that explains a little more about how these auctions work.

  • JamesWimberley

    It’s a lonely crusade, but I suggest using petawatts and petawatt-hours rather than exajoules. (1 joule = 1 watt/second, so 1 exajoule = 0.278 petawatt-hour). The kilowatt has an intuitive basis, as it’s roughly the power delivered by a small horse, and we buy electricity in kw/hrs.

    Another lonely crusade is to stop using primary or final energy consumption as the denominator in scenarios. For a given output, both depend on the energy mix, so the calculation using varying amounts or renewables is circular. Electrifying transport cuts final energy consumption by the sector in four, with no change in miles driven. The right approach is to work back from useful energy, with different technology mixes.

    Good to see an official agency recognizing that China’s coal consumption has already peaked. It’s disappointing though to see a projection that it won’t actually fall. I hope IRENA are underestimating the death spiral effect of renewables on the finances of Chinese coal generators that can no longer run as baseload. German coal generating plants are already financial basket cases, facing only 7% solar generation on average, and their owners are petitioning to close more and more of them.

    • Will E

      Its not the linear graphics of growing renewable in years, it is the tipping point of renewables that changes investment and divestment policy. as it is, no investor wants to invest in coal oil and gas and nuke utilities. So the tipping point is reached allready in favor of renewables. and with fossil money going green renewable will accelarate like a Tesla.

    • S Herb

      Thank you for your concern regarding energy units. The situation is at least somewhat improved compared to 15-20 years ago when I was (almost) inspired by my reading to write the ultimate US energy consumption article, in which all possible energy units (million barrels, quads, megajoules, etc.) were used in the text, but none more than once.

  • Eric Gerber

    Not sure this is cause for celebration or optimism. First, someone check my math but I think a doubling of the percent renewables on a 60% over all growth is a 3.2x increase in the current renewables. That’s not “nearly quadrupling” as the title states. Second, the annual amount of carbon projected to go in to the atmosphere still goes up according to the charts. Despite the rosy headline, China would still be making the problem worse and faster. Unless, I am misreading the article, this is a dire forecast and not a happy one.

    • Ronald Brakels

      The good news is that China’s coal use isn’t likely to flatline for 15 years as the first graph suggests. If coal is having a hard time in Australia, it’s going to have a hard time in China where it’s quality is considerably worse and they can’t use low population density as a pollution control measure.

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