China’s demand for power is expected to double to 15,000 TWh by 2050, according to the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). This is to support China’s recently announced ambition to peak its emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 (or sooner). This is significant because China is the world’s largest green-house gas emitter, contributing nearly 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions1.
Developing a largely decarbonised Chinese economy will mean electrifying as much of it as possible and doing so using renewable energy resources, like wind and solar. According to the ETC, its technically feasible to meet China’s growing power demand using zero-carbon resources and renewable power prices are already competitive with fossil fuels.
The bulk of investment in zero-carbon power infrastructure will need to take place in the 2020s, when the majority of China’s power demand growth is expected to take place (~12,000 TWh). Designing policies that support zero-carbon growth will be a key driver. Recommended policy instruments include quantitative investment targets in critical areas like renewable power and infrastructure, carbon pricing to encourage corporate behaviour, and regulation that supports transition across sectors like heavy industry, transport and the built environment.
This report by the Energy Transitions Commission and The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) analyses what is required to decarbonise China’s power sector by 2030. It also describes why meeting the growth almost entirely from zero-carbon generation sources is feasible and what needs to happen to deliver it.
1 Energy Transitions Commission: ‘China 2050: A fully developed rich zero-carbon economy’ (2019)