China set new records for coal production in 2022, but the country is also making other energy-related announcements that are a little more promising from a climate viewpoint.
According to data from the National Energy Administration (NEA) released on Wednesday, it also set records for new solar capacity added last year, installing a total of 87.41 gigawatts (GW). And perhaps this year will see the breaking of even another record.
The founder of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory, Frank Haugwitz, stated that China’s solar installations could easily reach 100GW this year due to recent sharp drops in solar panel and material prices that will encourage developers to launch large-scale projects as soon as possible. The South China Morning Post summarised his comments.
According to PV Magazine, the 87.41 GW of new solar capacity represented a 60.3 percent increase in capacity growth over 2021. With this, the overall capacity is 392.61 GW, up 28.1 percent from the previous year. China added 21.7 GW to the 65.71 GW installed during the first 11 months of 2022, making up about a quarter of the total capacity added.
According to the South China Morning Post, China is trying to enhance its renewable energy capacity in order to meet its targets of reaching peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2060.
According to PV Magazine: it had less success with additional wind capacity in 2022, installing only 37.63 GW, or 21% less than in 2021. According to the South China Morning Post, this is due to the government ceasing to provide subsidies for onshore wind farms in 2021 and offshore wind farms this year.
Despite being a record, solar capacity was lower than expected due to supply chain difficulties, according to Bloomberg. The price of the solar component polysilicon increased to decadal levels due to a decline in supply, which in turn increased the cost of solar panels and decreased demand. However, the supply chain bottleneck’s relaxation should help solar in 2023. The prognosis for wind is also expected to improve.
According to Dennis Ip, regional head of utility research at Daiwa Capital Markets, “We expect it to ramp up sharply in 2023, especially offshore wind projects, given coastal provinces still have subsidy programs [until 2024 or 2025] to encourage new installations.”
China has set a target of installing 64.5 GW of new wind and 97.4 GW of new solar this year in order to reach a total of 430 GW of wind capacity and 490 GW of solar capacity by the end of 2023.
China has also announced plans to construct new coal-fired power facilities, which may boost global coal production by 270 GW by 2025. Overall, in 2022, less new fossil fuel capacity was added. A decrease from 51.6 GW in 2021 and 54.6 GW in 2020, China added 35.6 GW of coal and natural gas plants.
Nevertheless, during the first 11 months of 2022, these plants provided 67.3 percent of the nation’s energy while low-carbon energy projects provided only 32.7 percent.