Details of five-year plan confirms China’s clean energy commitments for 2020

Recent announcements by Chinese government agencies have shed new light on how the country intends to achieve its 2020 energy goals.

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) in January revealed some details of the blueprint for the energy sector in the period 2016-2020, strictly linked to the 13th Five-Year Plan (13FYP) issued in March 2016. According to Chinese institutional procedures, sectoral planning follows the completion of national five-year plans.

The 13FYP set binding targets on China’s energy intensity (a 15 percent cut per unit of GDP compared with 2015) and carbon intensity, to be reduced by 18 percent compared with 2015 level by 2020.

NEA deputy director on Jan. 5 reaffirmed that China’s total energy consumption will be capped at 5 billion tonnes of coal equivalent by 2020, equivalent to a 15-percent reduction of energy use per unit of GDP, Xinhua state news agency reported. Previous NEA’s announcement included a cap on energy consumption for 2017 at around 4.4 billion tonnes of coal equivalent, Reuters said.

Chinese energy agency plans to increase energy consumption from non-fossil fuels sources to 15 percent and from natural gas to 10 percent during the 2016-2020 period, while the share of coal is targeted to fall from 64 percent in 2015 to 58 percent by 2020.

Measures to achieve these targets include the construction of hydropower and nuclear projects, the steady development of wind and solar energy, the expansion of natural gas consumption market and the control of new coal production, by giving prominence to more efficient and clean coal facilities.

The Chinese government will invest 2.5 trillion yuan (around USD 361 billion, or USD 72 billion per year) in renewable energy projects to support the energy transition up to 2020

According to a recently released study by IEEFA, China was the world’s largest investor in clean energy with USD102.9bn in renewables (excluding large hydro) in 2015. With slightly different figures, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) annual report showed that Chinese investment in renewable energy sources decreased to USD87.8bn in 2016, down 26 percent on the record-spending of US D119.1bn in 2015.

“After years of record-breaking investment driven by some of the world’s most generous feed-in tariffs, China and Japan are cutting back on building new large-scale projects and shifting towards digesting the capacity they have already put in place”, BNEF analyst said in the official release. “China is facing slowing power demand and growing wind and solar curtailment. The government is now focused on investing in grids and reforming the power market so that the renewables in place can generate to their full potential.”



(Image: Mulan Wind Farm, Heilongiang, China. Photo credit: Land Rover Our Planet/Flickr)