China makes constant progress of clean energy

By Ding Yiting, People’s Daily

China recently unveiled the performance of its wind power industry in 2020, which attracted wide attention.

The newly installed capacity of wind power increased by 71.67 million kilowatts last year, hitting a record high. The total generating capacity by wind turbines across the country grew around 15 percent to 466.5 billion kilowatt-hours, an equivalent of the power generated by four Three Gorges Hydroelectric Power Stations last year. As of the end of 2020, the total installed capacity of wind power had hit 281 million kilowatts, ranking first in the world.

In 2005, China’s total installed capacity of wind power for the first time crossed the 1-million-kilowatt mark. Three years later, the number surged tenfold. It further expanded to 100 million kilowatts in 2014 and doubled again in 2018.

From a nobody in the wind power sector that had to import wind turbines from overseas, to becoming a global leader in wind power generation technologies, China has completed a giant step forward in the industry.

In the past, China’s wind power plants were mostly located in the “Three-North” region, namely north China, northwest China and northeast China. Thanks to the wide application of megawatt-level wind turbines, long blades and super high towers in recent years, plains and regions with low wind speed also became eligible for wind power generation. Around 40 percent of the newly installed capacity of wind power in 2020 came from central, east and south China.

Years ago, the cheapest wind power came at 0.8 yuan ($0.12) per kilowatt-hour, and even 2 yuan in some places. Today, wind power projects in most regions of China, especially newly built onshore projects are no longer subsidized. The price of wind power is even lower than coal power in regions with rich wind resources. It altered people’s stereotype that new energy is expensive and not accepted by the market.

China’s wind power industry achieved unexpected performance under the impacts from COVID-19, overcoming unfavorable factors such as the insufficient supply of parts and raw materials, hindered logistics, and delayed construction schedules. This didn’t come in an easy way.

Apart from wind power, the photovoltaic (PV) industry of China also embraced growth against headwinds. The newly added PV capacity grew 60 percent year on year and hit 48.2 million kilowatts last year, the highest in the recent three years. The total newly added capacity of wind and PV power reached nearly 120 million kilowatts in 2020, accounting for 62.8 percent of China’s total newly installed capacity. China now ranks first in the world regarding the installed capacity of hydro, wind, PV and biomass power. This indicates the strong resilience and vitality of the clean energy sector, and mirrors the high quality and high speed of China’s energy industry.

The steady progress of China’s clean energy industry is a result of the country’s unswerving energy revolution. Energy in China’s New Era, a white paper issued by China last year comprehensively explained the major policies and measures launched by the country to advance energy revolution.

Promoting a clean and low-carbon energy was one of the most important philosophies of China. Eyeing the future, China is striving to have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Besides, the country also promised to bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030.

This has further explicated how the market of wind and PV power will develop in the future, and stimulated market entities’ enthusiasm for investment.

Low-carbon energy development concerns the future of mankind. China will keep advancing the progress of clean energy to better cope with climate change and contribute more to building a clean and beautiful world.