March 16 -- China’s wind and solar power generation has jumped in recent years to nearly equal domestic residential electricity consumption, but the relatively small share of household demand in overall consumption means that China still needs a lot of fossil fuels.
In 2022, China’s wind and solar power output surged by 21% to 1,190 terawatt-hours (TWh), according to data from the Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) cited by Bloomberg. To compare, residential electricity demand last year rose by 14% to 1,340 TWh as people mostly stayed at home due to the zero-Covid policy.
Despite the surge in Chinese wind and solar power installations and generation, the Chinese industry accounts for around 60% of all electricity demand, according to Bloomberg’s estimates. Residential demand, on the other hand, was just 17% of electricity consumption in 2020.
Even with a surge in wind and solar, China will need more fossil fuel-powered electricity to keep its industry going and economic growth rising.
China is speeding up the rollout of solar and wind capacity additions and it is likely that it will hit its 2030 renewable energy target earlier than planned, South China Morning Post reported last month. At least 30 Chinese provinces have unveiled more ambitious renewable installation programs.
Those provinces aim to add over 300 gigawatts (GW) of wind power and 550 GW of solar power capacity under the five-year plan. This would raise the provinces’ total installed capacity to 1,500 GW, more than China’s goal of 1,200 GW by 2030, Jin Boyang, a senior analyst at Refinitiv, told South China Morning Post.
China could even raise by 2025 or even sooner its national target for renewables installations through 2030, Jin said.
At the same time, China expects to add 70 GW of coal-fired power generation this year, up from 40 GW of capacity from coal installed in 2022, a report from the power sector’s group, China Electricity Council, showed last month.