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China and neighboring countries ditch nuclear, embracing RES

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#China #Taiwan #South Korea #RES #Solar #Nuclear

china south korea

China’s climate change policy is shifting. With increased investment in RES, the world leader in carbon emissions is pledging to improve its climate policy. China’s commitment to RES production is highlighted in the National Energy Administration (NEA) solar development plan, which aims to add more than 110 GW of solar energy capacity by 2020, thus placing China as the world’s biggest solar energy producer.

According to the NEA, it is estimated China’s economic investment in RES will total ¥2,5 trillion (€333 billion) by 2020, thereby boosting RES output from 11% to 20% by 2020.

This new framework is also increasing the development of solar projects by national energy companies and attracting EU companies to invest in the country. For example, Swedish Cleanergy AB recently signed an agreement with Datang Holdings New Energy Technologies Limited – a Chinese energy company now moving into large scale installations of solar power plants and energy storage. The agreement consists in the manufacturing, installation and development of a 200 MW CSP plant, with a total potential value of around €515 million.

China will likely achieve (and may even exceed) its 15% RES target by 2020. Meanwhile, statistics show that China overtook the US as the world’s largest generator of non-hydro RES power in 2016, a trend that could lead “the country of the red dragon” to become the new leader in climate change efforts (see Hot Topic of 20 June 2017: “China surpasses US as world leader in RES generation, could it also become the new leader in climate change efforts?”).

China is not alone in making the shift: it’s neighbors want in as well. Taiwan’s Prime Minister, Lin Chuan, wants to increase the share of RES to 20% by 2025 compared to the current 5%. The Taiwanese government hopes to attract NT$1,8 trillion (€52 billion) of private capital to: (i) lower thermal coal’s share in electricity production to 30% from 45%; (ii) eliminate nuclear power, which currently accounts for 14%; and (iii) raise the share of natural gas to 50% from 32%.

Similarly, on 19 June 2017, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in announced that the government will not extend the lifetime of existing nuclear plants. A very ambitious move considering that South Korea is the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power producer, with 25 operational reactors supplying around one-third of its energy mix.  To replace nuclear power, the nation plans to boost RES output to 20% of the energy mix by 2030 and to support an increased use of liquefied natural gas.


Power Engineering