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China publishes Five-Year Plan for renewables

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On August 7, 2012, the Chinese government published its “12th Five-Year Plan on Renewable Energy”, placing particular emphasis on hydropower, wind, solar and biomass energy. The National Energy Administration (NEA) said clean energy would account for more than 9.5% of total energy consumption by 2015. Targets include 290 gigawatts of installed hydropower capacity, 100 gigawatts of wind power capacity and 21 gigawatts of solar.

The plan shows just how serious a part of China’s power system renewables are becoming, most notably solar energy.

China is one of the world’s key solar manufacturers, but many domestic firms have recently seen financial losses and falls in production due to US anti-dumping tariffs. Meng Xiangan, deputy director of the China Renewable Energy Society, said that international opposition was having a severe impact on China’s solar sector. Confronted with the possibility of the main foreign markets closing their doors, China hopes to open up new markets and reduce the pressure on the domestic solar players.

It is worth noting that, according to newspaper Beijing Times, China’s installed solar capacity currently stands at 2 gigawatts. The previous target for 2015 was just 10 million kilowatts, but this has now been raised to 21 gigawatts. Liang Zhipeng, head of the NEA’s renewable energy department said that, of the new sources of energy, photovoltaic energy would be tapped the most.

Today, the price of solar electricity in China is 1 yuan per kilowatt-hour, but if the sector can produce electricity at 0.6 yuan per kilowatt-hour, its market share would likely grow to be as large as that of wind energy. In the next three years, it is likely that the price of solar energy will fluctuate depending on market conditions, and gain widespread use in industry, commerce and everyday life. Moreover, in this latest clean-energy plan, China pledges to set up 30 clean energy demonstration projects, 100 model cities and 200 green counties.

Translated and edited by chinadialouge volunteer Giulia Gortani and Hope Loudon respectively.

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