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Nation's switch to clean energy seen powered by policy initiatives

(China daily) | Updated: 2017-07-24
2017-07-24 (China daily)

Electricity generated by clean energy resources in China is expected to gradually increase over the next few years, powered by innovative government policies and measures, according to industry experts.

"China has launched a series of programs for the development of clean energy, effectively alleviating the demand for thermal coal," said Feng Haicheng, an analyst at Sublime China Information Group.

The country's top economic regulator will accelerate the reform of the national electrical power system, together with related government departments, and develop a priority plan for clean energy power generation, National Development and Reform Commission spokesman Yan Pengcheng said on Tuesday.

At the end of last year, the National Energy Administration issued a number of plans on the future development of wind power, solar power and renewable energy.

The plans covered practical methods for clean energy development, Feng said.

"For example, wind power-generated electricity should be transferred to Central and East China, and South China," she said.

By the end of 2016, the installed power capacity of renewable energy resources was 570 million kilowatts, accounting for 35 percent of the total power generating capacity, statistics showed.

In recent years, China's wind power and photovoltaic power production has grown rapidly, although some problems exist, such as high costs, less developed infrastructure and local protectionism.

"To solve the high cost of wind power and hydropower generation, at the start of the year China launched green power certificates, designed to encourage all the society to be more involved in green electricity consumption," Feng said.

The certificates form a voluntary subscription system for electricity generated from renewable energy. Companies and individuals with social responsibility and the environmentally conscious can buy the certificate to promote the use of clean energy.

"After one or two years of tests, the system is expected to replace the State's subsidies policy," she said.

Yan from the NDRC also said on Tuesday that the commission would expand the scale of clean energy trans-provincial trade, helping overcome regional protectionism.

"A large amount of the electricity generated by wind and solar energy resources comes from western China, but it is the provinces in Central and East China which lack electricity," Feng said.

As a result, construction of infrastructure such as high-voltage cables and the trans-province trade had become especially important for the development of clean energy, she added.

"The total amount of electricity generated from clean energy sources like wind, solar and water energy in the first half of the year increased 5.15 percent year-on-year, the equivalent to a 22 million metric ton reduction in thermal coal consumption," Yan told a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

Clean energy accounted for 27.2 percent of China's total power output in the first half, up 1.8 percentage points year-on-year, he said.

Electricity generated in the first half by wind power increased 25.7 percent year-on-year, solar power jumped 80.3 percent, and nuclear power grew 20.8 percent, while hydropower production declined, he said.

China consumed 979 million tons of coal for power generation in the first half of this year, according to data from Sublime China Information Group.

The NDRC spokesman said he expected a further rise in clean power output in the coming months, with the country's braced for its seasonal peak electricity consumption period.

Although hydropower output had seen negative growth in the first five months, Yan estimated that it would be near record high levels in July, with the onset of the summer rainy season.