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China Electricity Stats For 2016

February 18, 2017

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.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    February 18, 2017 11:30 am

    “It is a common trick for renewable lobbyists and cheerleaders ……..”

    ….. to report additions to China’s renewables capacity without mentioning the transmission & distribution grids are the bottleneck:

    The Gruan, as ever, misleads by omission; so few are aware of reality:

    “China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower

    27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

    Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power”

    No mention it’s actually a solar PV–hydro hybrid system.

    “The Longyangxia PV plant has a capacity of 320 MW and covers a 9 km2 area. It is connected directly to one of the turbine units by a 330 kV transmission line. As one of the largest solar PV stations in the world, without the balancing power of the Longyangxia hydro turbine, this could pose a serious problem for the stability of the grid.

    While the use of small amounts of intermittent power has little effect on grid operations, larger penetration of variable power can affect the grid’s ability to operate as required.

    The hydropower station employs quick–response turbines, which smooths the output curve of the PV power, caused by natural fluctuations in sunlight due to cloud cover and time of day.”–hydro-hybrid-system-at-longyangxia-china

    • AlecM permalink
      February 18, 2017 11:57 am

      Correct: China’s renewables are used in areas without access to their National Grids.

      We are apparently intent of destroying our National Grid to emulate China.

  2. HotScot permalink
    February 18, 2017 11:48 am

    Yet more fake, distorted, biased news from the lefty, green, humanity haters.

  3. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 18, 2017 12:11 pm

    Combining unreliables and storage is a winner. The unreliable should pump water to the store in my view; easy with wind. This makes the storage independent of the unreliable source so that the unreliable is an occasional bonus.

    Could fill Dinorwig with floating solar panels and windmills to balance-out demand and supply. The 20% availability would not matter, however, the cost per kW installed would have to be increased to allow for the inefficiency of storage, i.e. about 60% round-trip.

  4. February 18, 2017 12:17 pm

    Lesson 1 of Renewable Hype 101: take the biggest renewable number you can find, and compare it with the smallest number you can find. Academics are expert at this, many make a good living by comparing renewables with … ZERO, as in many papers that establish that with greater geographical diversity you eventually get a non-zero minimum output, but failing to mention that larger areas tend to contain more consumers.

    UK academics are world leaders in this field, despite a finite land area. A recent paper I saw was all about how going further offshore would reduce wind power lulls. The wind is always blowing somewhere … in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Pass Go and collect your next grant.

  5. A C Osborn permalink
    February 18, 2017 12:56 pm

    They fail to mention that Hydro makes a much larger contribution and has had a much larger increase and that Nuclear was almost as large and increase as wind, which is of course Baseload, not intermittent like wind & solar.

  6. February 18, 2017 2:08 pm

    Have a look at the other chart – aggregated data for the six Nations.

    Wind is 3-4% of total output for those six countries (no sign of Japan?). Coal is near 70%.

  7. markl permalink
    February 18, 2017 4:51 pm

    And that is why people are calling out fake news. Nothing more than propaganda and it’s catching up with the MSM.

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