China plans clean energy future

22 December 2020

While still primarily relying on coal to meet its energy needs, China says it is committed to playing its part in the global fight against climate change. A white paper published yesterday by the State Council says the country will increase the share of clean energy sources, including nuclear, in its energy mix.

(Image: Pixabay)

The State Council said it published the white paper - Energy in China's New Era - to "provide a full picture of China's achievements in energy development and its major policies and measures for energy reform." It says China is committed to "driving an energy revolution".

Preliminary figures show that in 2019, coal consumption accounted for 57.7% of total energy consumption, a decrease of 10.8 percentage points from 2012, according to the white paper. Meanwhile, the consumption of clean energy (natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power and wind power) accounted for 23.4% of total energy consumption, an increase of 8.9 percentage points over 2012. Non-fossil energy accounted for 15.3% of total energy consumption, up 5.6 percentage points against 2012. It says China has reached its target of raising the share of non-fossil energy to 15% of total energy consumption by 2020.

China's electricity supply capacity has risen to a cumulative installed capacity of 2.01 billion kW in 2019, up 75% since 2012, with electricity output up 50% to 7.5 trillion kWh. Renewable energy sources have expanded rapidly, with cumulative installed capacities of hydropower, wind power, and solar photovoltaic power each ranking top in the world, the document says. As of the end of 2019, the total installed capacity of nuclear power plants under construction and in operation reached 65.93 million kW, the second largest in the world.

Since 2010, China has invested about USD818 billion in renewable energy generation, accounting for 30% of global total investment over the same period, the white paper says.

"China attaches equal importance to safety and the orderly development of nuclear power," says the document. "It has strengthened whole-life management and supervision of nuclear power planning, site selection, design, construction, operation and decommissioning, and adopted the most advanced technologies and strictest standards for the nuclear power industry."

China has mastered the technology to design and construct gigawatt-class nuclear power plants with pressurised water reactors, it adds. Breakthroughs have also been made in "multiple frontier technologies including those associated with fast reactors and advanced small modular reactors". The paper says China has launched a project in nuclear power technology to advance research into core technologies of a third-generation pressurised water reactor and a fourth-generation high-temperature gas cooled reactor. "The goal is to boost the country's independent innovation in nuclear power technology."

China says it will "fully leverage the decisive role of the market in allocating energy resources, and ensure the government better play its part in this regard." It says it will extend market-oriented reform in key areas and on vital issues to remove institutional barriers, solve the problem of an incomplete market system, provide strong institutional guarantees for China's energy security and boost the high-quality development of the energy sector. The country is "working hard to cultivate a variety of market entities, break up monopolies, ease market access, and encourage competition. It is building an energy market system that is unified, open, competitive and yet orderly, removing market barriers, and making the allocation of energy resources more efficient and fairer."

The white paper notes that China has lifted the restrictions for foreign investment to enter the sectors of coal, oil, gas, electric power (excluding nuclear power) and renewable energy.

"China is embarking on a new journey towards a modern socialist country in all respects," the paper says. "In this new development stage, it will remain committed to an energy revolution, and move faster to build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system, to lay a solid foundation for basically achieving socialist modernisation in 2035 and becoming a great modern socialist country by the middle of the 21st century."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News