Non-Fossil Fuel Sources Provide 25% of China’s Electricity

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Figures from the China Electricity Council (CEC) indicate that non-fossil fuel sources of energy accounted for more than a quarter of the country’s electricity generation in 2014.

Image of solar power installation in Hong Kong

According to the latest round of statistical data issued by CEC, China’s nation-wide electricity generation reached 5550TW hours in 2014, for year-on-year growth of 3.6%. Of this amount, non-fossil fuel generation comprised 1420 TW hours, rising by 19.6% year-on-year.

Non-fossil fuel electricity generation thus comprises approximately 25.6% of nationwide electricity generation in 2014, breaching the 25% threshold for the first time in the PRC’s history, and increasing its share of the total by 3.4 percentage points.

Non-fossil fuel generation capacity currently stands at 450GW, comprising approximately a third of China’s total installed generation capacity of 1.36TW.

In 2014, China increased its power generation capacity by 103.5GW, 1.28GW more than the addition made in the preceding year. Of this added capacity, non-fossil fuel power sources account for over 57GW.

China’s chief source of non-fossil energy remains hydropower, installed capacity of which reached 300GW in December for an increase of 7.9% year-on-year.

In 2014, nationwide hydropower generation breached the 1000 TW hour threshold for the first time in history to reach 1070TW hours, rising by 19.7% compared to the preceding year. This sizeable increase was due to favourable conditions in key hydropower regions during 2014’s high-water season, compared to a poor showing the previous year.

Hydropower investment nonetheless fell sharply in 2014, plunging 21.5% year-on-year to 96 billion yuan. While hydropower capacity increased by 21 GW, this expansion was nonetheless 9.11 GW less than the amount added during 2013.

The inland plateau provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan remains the centers of new hydropower for geographic reasons, adding 16.84GW of hydropower capacity in 2014, and accounting for 77.1% of the nationwide increase.

In stark contrast to the sharp decline in spending on hydropower, wind power and solar power investment both saw significant gains.

In 2014 total investment in wind power surpassed spending in solar power, conventional thermal power plants, and nuclear power for the first time in history, hitting a total of 99.3 billion yuan for a year-on-year rise of 52.8%. This surge in spending, largely due to the anticipation of changes in policies for the pricing of grid connections, made wind power the one segment of China’s energy sector which received the greatest amount of investment in 2014.

China created 20.72 GW in new grid-connected wind power capacity in 2014 – the first time the annual capacity expansion surpassed 20 GW, and 5.85GW more than the amount added in the preceding year.

As of the end of December, China’s nationwide grid-connected wind capacity stood at 95.81 GW, for a year on year increase of 25.6%.

China’s inner and northern provinces, including Gansu, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Ningxia, Hebei and Yunnan, remain the chief centers of wind power in the country, each adding in excess of 1GW in grid-connected wind power capacity. Inner Mongolia and Gansu in particular have emerged as stalwart sources of wind power for China, with grid-installed capacity of 20.7GW and 10.08GW respectively.

Despite China’s ongoing push for expanded wind power capacity, usage hours for wind power installations fell by 120 hours last year to 1905 hours. Nationwide grid-connected wind power generation nonetheless posted a year-on-year gain of 12.2%, to reach 156.3 TW hours.

China’s grid-connected solar power capacity also posted an impressive increase in 2014, rising by 67.0% year-on-year to reach 26.52GW by the end of December 2014. Nationwide grid-connected solar power generation reached 23.11 TW hours in 2014, for a year-on-year increase of 170.8%.

As with wind power, China’s inner and northern provinces continue to dominate when it comes to solar power, with Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang hosting 5.17GW, 4.11GW and 3.76GW of capacity respectively, Inner Mongolia more than 2GW, and Ningxia and Hebei each over 1GW.

Despite the addition of 5 new nuclear reactors last year comprising 5.47 GW of generating capacity, China’s investment in nuclear power fell by 13.8% last year to 56.9 billion yuan. As of the end of December China was host to 19.88GW of installed nuclear power capacity, for a year-on-year increase of 36.1%.

Nationwide nuclear power generation in 2014 was 126.2 TW hours, for a year-on-year increase of 13.2% Usage times fell 385 hours year-on-year to 7489 hours on average.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons by WING CC BY-SA 3.0

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