China Plans Renewables Revolution

China is planning a massive expansion of its renewable energy generation capacity, with a strategy to match Europe by 2020 by producing 20% of its total energy requirements from renewables.

According to comments reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-chairman of China’s national development and reform commission, said that China would easily surpass its current 2020 wind and solar targets and is now considering expanding them by a factor of three. For example, under the terms of the current proposals, wind is set to reach 30 GW by 2020 but Zhang told the paper the new goal could be 100 GW saying: “Similarly, by 2020 the total installed capacity for solar power will be at least three times that of the original target [of 3 GW].”

In an interview in London Zhang said: “We are now formulating a plan for development of renewable energy. We can be sure we will exceed the 15% target. We will at least reach 18%. Personally I think we could reach the target of having renewables provide 20% of total energy consumption.”

Commenting on the move, Cathy Tang, senior associate in the Shanghai office of international law firm Eversheds, said: “Based on the trend of development in China’s renewable sector, it is a realistic target for China to have 20% energy sourced from renewables by 2020. It is even likely to exceed this target. For example, by the end of 2007 the installed gross capacity of wind turbines in China reached 6050 MW well exceeded Chinese government’s initial target of 5000 MW for 2010. The government later set higher targets for renewable energies. In 2008, analysts believed that by 2020 at least 15% of China’s energy will come from renewable sources. In the past few months, national and local governments of China have made a stunning focus on the development of renewable energy by publishing a series of policies to stimulate this sector, including adopting preferential treatments and state investment plans. Leading state-owned enterprises and private enterprises are very active in taking actions to build their manufacturing capacity, especially in wind and solar power, by buying advanced technologies from western countries.”

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