China Power Seen Doubling With Renewables as Coal Holds Sway

China’s generation capacity will more than double to 2030, with half of all new plants powered by renewable energy and coal remaining the most important fuel, analysts said.

China may add 1,583 gigawatts of capacity and attract $1.4 trillion in renewables investment by that year, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Coal will still account for more than 50 percent of power generation, the London-based researcher said.

China, the world’s largest carbon-dioxide emitter, is seeking to meet demand that will probably grow 5 percent a year while forging a cleaner future after smog in Beijing in June surpassed hazardous levels. The government has boosted solar-power targets as it seeks to curb pollution that spurred unrest about dirty air and water resources.

“It is hard to underestimate the significance of China’s energy consumption growth and its evolving generation mix,” said Michael Liebreich, BNEF’s London-based chief executive officer. “The impacts will reach far beyond China and have major implications for the rest of the world, ranging from coal and gas prices to the cost and market size for renewable energy technologies.”

China will add 88 gigawatts of new power plants -- the equivalent of the U.K.’s entire installed capacity -- each year to 2030, BNEF said. Renewable plants such as large hydropower stations will account for half of the new capacity, it said.

Declining Emissions

Carbon emissions from power generation could start to decline by 2027 as renewables are added, according to the researcher, which analyzed China’s power industry based on four scenarios. Outcomes will hinge on factors such as the cost at which China extracts shale gas reserves, water constraints on drilling and power generation and the speed with which environmental policies such as a carbon price are enforced, BNEF said.

While coal-fired capacity will drop as renewables and gas generation rise, the fuel’s share in the power mix will remain highest at 58 percent in 2030, down from 72 percent last year, according to BNEF. China consumes half the world’s coal.

“Despite significant progress in renewable energy deployment, coal looks set to remain dominant to 2030,” said Jun Ying, Beijing-based country manager and head of research for China at BNEF. “More support for renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency will be needed if China wants to reduce its reliance on coal more quickly.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sally Bakewell in London at sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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