China’s 2020 Energy Strategy
By Paul Homewood
Oldbrew reminds me that China unveiled their energy strategy and targets for 2020 back in November 2014. These help to give a fill some of the gaps of our understanding of their 2030 plans.
This was how Xinhuanet reported it:
China has issued a long list of targets for its future energy strategy as the country looks to modernize its energy structure.
The State Council promised more efficient, self-sufficient, green and innovative energy production and consumption in the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) published Wednesday
It included a cap set on annual primary energy consumption set at 4.8 billion tonnes of the standard coal equivalent until 2020.
This means the annual growth rate of primary energy consumption must be limited within 3.5 percent for the next six years.
Annual coal consumption will be held below 4.2 billion tonnes until 2020, 16.3 percent more than the 3.6 billion tonnes burned last year, according to the National Coal Association.
The plan placed heavy responsibility on regions around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, the three biggest city clusters, asking them to wean off too much coal burning.
The share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix will rise to 15 percent by 2020 from 9.8 percent in 2013, according to the plan.
The goal of the ratio set for 2030 is around 20 percent, China announced last week during the APEC meetings in Beijing.
The share of natural gas will be raised to above 10 percent and that of coal will be reduced to under 62 percent. Production of both shale gas and coalbed methane could reach 30 billion cubic meters by 2020.
Construction of new nuclear power plants in eastern coastal areas will begin at a proper time, with feasibility of building such plants in inland regions being studied. Installed nuclear power capacity will reach 58 gigawatts and those under construction will top 30 gigawatts by 2020.
Installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power is expected to stand at 350 gigawatts, 200 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts, respectively.
Energy self-sufficiency will be boosted to around 85 percent.
China is the world’s largest energy consumer and it is quite concerned with environmental pollution and energy security.
"China mainly depends on coal and it is exploited rudimentarily," said Zhou Dadi, vice director of the China Energy Research Society, adding that China is a major emitter of air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
The country is also a major importer of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium. Nearly 60 percent of oil and over 30 percent of natural gas currently rely on imports.
China used 21.5 percent of global energy and generated 12.3 percent of the world’s GDP. "Energy consumption per unit GDP is very high," said Li Yizhong, president of China Federation of Industrial Economics.
"These targets are pragmatic and obligatory," said Li.
- Coal consumption to rise from 3.6 to 4.2 billion tonnes.
- Annual growth in energy consumption capped at 3.5%. This would equate to an increase of 23% over the six years.
- The share of non fossil fuels to rise to 15% from 9.8%. Given the overall increase in energy consumption, this means that fossil fuels rise by 16% in absolute terms.
The plan also mentions installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power is expected to stand at 350 gigawatts, 200 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts, respectively, and 58GW of nuclear. We can work out what this means for generation, using capacity utilisation figures from the China Statistical Yearbook:
Total electricity generation in China was 5650 TWh in 2014. If we assume this rises by 23% in line with overall energy, we would be looking at a figure of 6950 TWh by 2020. In other words, wind will contribute just 6% and solar 3%.
This is a reminder that, despite the large numbers floated around for capacity, wind and solar will still be bit part players, and will contribute much less in proportion than they already do in the UK.
One final piece of information can be gleaned from Xinhuanet, and that is that China and Russia signed an agreement in November 2014 for the supply of gas:
BEIJING, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — China and Russia signed agreements on Sunday to boost their energy cooperation, including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a second route to supply China with Russian natural gas.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of a series of bilateral cooperation agreements, including an MOU of the China-Russia West Route natural gas pipeline and a framework agreement between China National Petroleum Corporation, China’s largest oil and gas producer, and Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.
The two countries signed another agreement in May on the China-Russia East Route natural gas pipeline. The 30-year contract will see the pipeline start providing China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2018.
To put the numbers into perspective, China currently consumes 186 cubic meters annually, so an extra 38 billion will make a sizeable difference. Given that the contract is for 30 years, I think we can safely discount the prospect of China decarbonising their economy by 2050!