China Electricity Stats For 2016
By Paul Homewood
Ed Hoskins has prepared a neat summary of electricity generation data for 2016 here. It’s a useful go to site for up to date info.
In particular, he has found a site which provides data for China, which I normally have to wait for BP to publish in June. It comes from the China Energy Portal. I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but the numbers for 2015 all tally closely to the official BP ones.
The latest data for 2016 has inevitably led to at least one deceptive article (and no doubt many more to follow!).
It is a common trick for renewable lobbyists and cheerleaders to compare output from wind and solar in China with other countries, without putting it into perspective.
They don’t explain, for instance, that China’s total electricity generation is nine times the size of Germany’s.
When you drill down into the figures, the reality is much less impressive.
With total electricity output up by 5.2%, all forms of generation show some increase.
The increase in coal power has virtually offset the increase in wind. Total thermal generation has also more than offset the increase in wind and solar together.
Put another way, the increase in wind/solar has only provided 28% of the total increase in demand.
In overall terms, despite the enthusiastic headlines, wind and solar still only supply 5% of China’s electricity, only about a third of what the UK is achieving.
At the current rate of progress, they will still only be up to 9% by 2020.
A couple of other things stand out.
As ever, there is a focus on capacity, rather than output. The Energy Post article includes this table, purporting to show how quickly renewable energy is catching up.
From the capacity and output figures, we can glean that capacity utilisation for wind and solar was as little as 19% and 12% last year. (I have taken the capacity as the average of 2015 and 2016, to get an average for last year.)
This sums up exactly why wind and solar power can never be more than a bit part player.
Secondly, we can look at the pattern of demand.
It is noticeable that growth in demand from heavy industry is slowing dramatically, reflecting in turn the slowdown in steel, construction etc.
In contrast, it is domestic and tertiary industry which is seeing fastest growth, but these are much smaller in absolute terms.
I would expect these trends to continue in years to come.