China nears ambitious green energy milestone ahead of schedule

Keywords: Action, Energy, Newsroom

China is on the verge of achieving a significant green energy milestone, potentially reaching its 2030 target this month (July) – more than five years early. This rapid progress boosts global climate change efforts and helps China reduce its reliance on coal.

In a pledge made a few years ago, China aimed to install 1,200 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar capacity by 2030. A forecast by Climate Energy Finance (CEF), a Sydney-based think tank, suggests China could meet this goal within weeks.

As of May 2024, China had already installed over 1,150GW, with installations typically increasing in the second half of the year. The solar sector has seen remarkable growth, adding 217GW in 2023 and an additional 79.2GW in the first five months of this year.

China’s rapid investment in renewable energy is accelerating global deployment of wind and solar power. Achieving the 1,200GW target will have a significant impact on other nations, according to Xuyang Dong, a China energy policy analyst at CEF.

Analysts highlight that China’s renewable energy expansion has been crucial in curbing global emissions growth. Without this progress, China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – which constitute nearly a third of global CO2 emissions from human activities – would be significantly higher, noted Muyi Yang from Ember.

On its current growth trajectory, China could reach 2,200GW of wind and solar capacity by 2030, according to Jorrit Gosens. This is vital for reducing coal consumption and meeting the growing electricity demand.

However, challenges remain. China is expanding high-voltage power lines, enhancing storage, and managing excess wind and solar generation. Continued grid investments and better grid management are essential.

Efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy must be stepped up, says Lauri Myllyvirta, while helping millions in the coal sector transition to the green economy, adds Dr. Yang.

Lauri concludes: “The impressive acceleration in solar power deployment in 2023 – if maintained – could enable China’s emissions to peak and start falling earlier than targeted, providing new hope for meeting Paris Agreement goals and succeeding in global climate change efforts.”

Source: David Fogarty, Climate Change Editor, The Straits Times