China’s installed wind and solar capacity will overtake coal for the first time this year, though fossil fuels will continue dominate power generation.
The China Electricity Council (CEC) in a yearly report said grid-connected wind and solar would make up around 40% of installed power generation capacity by the end of 2024, compared with coal’s expected 37%.
By comparison, wind and solar together were around 36% of capacity at the end of 2023, and coal was just under 40%.
China will have built around 1,300 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar capacity by the end of 2024, the CEC expects, meaning it will have already exceeded its official target of 1,200 GW by 2030.
The CEC also said that generating capacity from all non-fossil fuel sources, including nuclear and hydro, made up more than half of the total for the first time in 2023.
However, it did not give a forecasted breakdown for actual power generation, which is still dominated by coal that provided nearly 60% of electricity consumed last year.
The CEC sees electricity consumption growing by 6% this year, down just slightly from 2023’s 6.7% growth rate, when demand was recovering from a low base following the pandemic.
It said power supply could be tight during the peak demand for heating in winter and cooling in summer, recommending improved measures to curb consumption, such as time-of-use pricing.
The CEC urged the government to develop a capacity payment system to incentivise battery storage and other new energy storage technologies as soon as possible to help incorporate renewable energy into the grid. It also suggested speeding up the construction of pumped hydro storage.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara