China to pump around $361bn into green energy by end of decade

5 Jan 17

China is to channel 2.5tn yuan ($361bn) into renewable energy technologies by the end of the decade, the country’s energy agency said today.


China smog iStock

As cities in China have been regularly engulfed in toxic smog, the government has declared a 'war on pollution'.


The announcement follows news that the world’s biggest polluter has set a target to reduce its annual coal capacity by 800 million tonnes as China steers away from the dirty power that fuelled its economic boom.

China’s National Energy Agency unveiled a document in a press conference today outlining its plans for renewable investment until 2020, as part of the country’s thirteenth five-year plan.

It gave no details as to how the funds, which would equate to around $90bn annually if split equally over the next four years, will be spent – a figure that would likely see China remain the world’s largest investor in renewable energy

Capacity growth in non-fossil fuel sources, including hydro, wind, solar, biomass and nuclear, will account for around half of all new power generation by 2020.

The NEA said the plans will create 13 million jobs and “very prominent” economic, environmental and social benefits.

Still, by the end of the decade renewable sources will account for just 15% of China’s energy production, compared to coal’s 58%, highlighting the scale of the challenge facing the country.

Public concern about pollution in China, which often sees entire cities engulfed in toxic smog, is becoming increasingly pronounced. This prompted its leaders to declare a ‘war on pollution’, and in recent years China has displayed enthusiasm for climate change initiatives.

However, its state-owned companies in industries like steel, coal and energy are among the main culprits in emissions and smog production.

According to reports in the country’s official news agency Xinhua on Saturday, Beijing is planning to cut its annual coal capacity by 800 million tonnes per year.

However, this will still result in annual increases in total output, albeit smaller than there would have been otherwise.

China expects total coal output to rise to around 3.9 billion tonnes by 2020, compared with 3.75 billion tonnes in 2016. By 2020, the world’s second largest economy will be burning 4.1 billion tonnes, Xinhua said.

Environmental NGOs pointed out that despite these commitments, China continues to build coal-fired power plants at an alarming rate. In 2015, it started around two new projects per week. 

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