China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced on 24 January that the cumulative installed capacity of renewable generation as of the end of 2017 totaled around 650 GW, showing a 14% increase from 2016. The breakdown of the cumulative renewable capacity by sources shows that cumulative capacities of hydro, wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), and biomass respectively came to 341 GW, 164 GW, 130 GW, and 14 GW. Versus the cumulative capacity figures as of the end of 2016, hydro, wind, and biomass respectively increased by 2.7%, 10.5%, and 22.6%. Solar PV, on the other hand, surged by 68.7%.
On the whole, renewables accounted for 36.6% of China’s total installed capacity by the end of 2017, up 2.1 percentage points from 2016. This shows that China has stepped up significantly in its efforts to use renewable energies to generate clean electricity.
Liang Zhipeng, the deputy director of NEA’s New and Renewable Energies Department, pointed out that China continues to raise its overall utilization level for renewable generation. Hydro, wind, and biomass registered annual generation growths of 1.7%, 26.3% and 22.7% for 2017. Solar PV generation on the other hand jumped by 78.6%.
The abandonment of electricity generated by renewable sources went down significantly in 2017. The abandonment problem is related to generated electricity going to waste because of the lack of transmission capacity, which in turn can lead to curtailment of generation. For instance, the utilization rate of domestic hydro generation in China reached 96% in 2017.
Liang pointed out that solar PV was the leading renewable energy in China in 2017 with the newly added capacity for the year totaling 53.06 GW. Out of the totaled installed capacity for 2017, solar power plants and distributed generation (DG) systems accounted for 33.62 GW and 19.44 GW, respectively. The newly added capacity from solar power plants in China increased by 11% annually, whereas the newly added capacity from DG systems registered a massive annual growth of 370%.
As of the end of 2017, China’s cumulative solar PV capacity reached 130 GW, of which 105.9 GW and 29.66 GW respectively belonged to solar power plants and DG systems. Solar PV generation in the country also recorded a large annual increase of 78.6%. The curtailment rate of solar PV generation to prevent wasted electricity showed improvement as well, dropping by 4.3 percentage points.
Liang also noted that wind generation in China has maintained steady growth. Newly added wind capacity in China for 2017 totaled 15.03 GW, pushing the cumulative capacity up to end of that year to 164 GW. Wind generation rose by 26.3% annually, while its curtailment rate fell by 5.2 percentage points. Some regions of the country that had experienced abandonment of wind electricity reported a turnaround during 2017.