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China’s five-year plan calling for 770GW of clean energy

The world’s largest renewables producer is looking to have 39% of its power mix contributed by non-fossil fuel sources by the end of the decade.

China aims to produce 15 percent of the electricity it consumes nationally from non-fossil fuels by 2020, according to its 13th Five-Year Plan on Energy. 

In order to achieve this target, China will need to have 770GW in combined non-fossil capacity in four years’ time, representing a 39 percent share of its power generation mix, said Han Shui, chief engineer at China’s National Energy Administration. This figure comprises both renewables and nuclear power. 

The country plans to have 340GW of installed hydro, which it hopes will largely come from new plants in China’s southwest, by 2020. The NEA said its hydro capacity topped 300GW in 2014, partly thanks to the 22.5GW China Three Gorges Dam fully commissioned in 2012, which to this date is the world’s largest hydro project.

China is also looking to grow its wind market to 210GW by 2020, with offshore wind farms expected to account for 5GW. It had installed 145GW as of last year, which was about a third of total global wind capacity, the Global Wind Energy Council said. 

Solar power capacity will be raised to 110GW, 60GW of which will come from distributed solar projects and 5GW from solar thermal facilities. The NEA approved the first batch of 1.34GW of solar thermal projects in a pilot scheme in September. Total installed solar capacity stood at 43GW in 2015, according to China’s official news agency. 

The Five-Year Plan also seek to address curtailment issues in the wind and solar sectors by encouraging industrial activities around affected regions. It aims to increase the capacity of long-distance transmission network, allowing the export of about 40GW of renewable energy from the west to the east. In addition to hydro power storage facilities, the government plans to build or modify coal-fired units to provide baseload power in the north. 

In terms of nuclear, Beijing aims to reach 58GW in total operating capacity, with plans to build more plants along the coast. Gas-fired capacity is expected to reach 110GW, or over five percent of China’s power production, while 50GW will be provided by new plants to be built by 2020. 

Total coal-fired generation will be maintained at a level of 1,100GW, respresenting about 55 percent of the mix by 2020. Han said the government will cancel and suspend plans of building more than 150GW of coal power in the next five years due to excess supply and upgrades to existing facilities. 

China had a total power generation capacity of 1,530GW as of 2015, with non-fossil fuel sources contributing a 12 percent share of the national electricity consumption.