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COP21: China pledges "green dispatch" on top of ambitious wind,solar targets

Wind farm in China. Source: Nordex SE

October 15 (SeeNews) - As COP21 nears SeeNews chose China as the forerunner of a series of articles providing up-to-date information about forthcoming climate policies at major renewables markets and  their important implications for the future of clean energy business.

From November 30 to December 11 this year, the 21st United Nations climate change conference (or COP21 as it otherwise known) will be hosted in France's capital.

Thus far, 140 countries have submitted national climate change commitments ahead of the Paris event in December. 

China, a major powerhouse for renewabes, has pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60%, peak its emissions and generate a fifth of its electricity from clean sources by 2030.

Clean energy investment in China already marked a 32% jump last year to hit the staggering USD 89 billion (EUR 78 billion), more than any other country in the world, according to estimates of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

China plans to boost installed capacity of wind power to 200 GW and solar power to around 150 GW by 2020, up from around 100 GW and 35 GW respectively, last reported in June.

These ambitious targets alone represents huge business opportunities for renewable power investors, manufacturers and developers but there is more.

China’s most recent climate commitments include “green dispatch” along with cap and trade and other actions. This new policy essentially means that barriers to running renewable energy facilities are being removed.

In the not so distant past, energy-hungry China used to employ production quotas and an “equal share” policy to incentivize the construction of new power plants. It guaranteed that any investor who builds a new power plant will be allowed to operate it for a minimum number of hours per year and so created an out-of-market incentive to operate coal-fired power plants instead of renewable energy plants with a low or zero fuel cost, like wind.

Besides causing unnecessary greenhouse emissions, this production quota system has adversely affected Chinese wind power plants by forcing them to shut down at times to let coal power plants meet their generation quotas. It is estimated that nearly 17% of wind power was lost due to grid curtailments in 2012. The “green dispatch” policy should significantly reduce that figure going forward.

(USD 1 = EUR 0.878)

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Browse all articles from Mariyana Yaneva

Mariyana is a founding member of the Renewables Now team. With nine years of professional experience in renewables she has built strong expertise in the wind industry and French-speaking markets.

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