China Producing More Renewable Energy Than It Can handle : Explanations, Reasons, and Solutions

Published on: 14 June 2022 12:55 PM
by KnowESG

China is recording outstanding results in terms of sustainability strategies and CO2 emissions reduction. However, it seems like since its grid is not adapting to the fast transformation rate of clean energy, 12% of the energy produced by wind turbines in Inner Mongolia is going to waste. We can also mention 10% of solar power in Qinghai, Economic Information Daily reported, according to government data, while in Gansu province, the utilization rate of wind and solar power could drop below 90% this year from nearly 97% in 2021. 

The Chinese economy has slowed and their energy use has dropped for many reasons including the COVID-19 lockdown. However, the massive transition to renewable energies is the main reason for these outstanding results in China and for global pollution. China set a record for wind capacity additions in 2020 and for solar in 2021, and is set to double that mark this year. The problem with this energy is that, unlike coal, it cannot be stocked and if the grid cannot handle huge amounts of energy, it goes to waste.

This is problematic for utilities, who aren't compensated for the electricity, and for the environment, as the lost clean energy is normally participates in reducing carbon emissions from coal combustion.

China was troubled by high curtailment rates throughout the previous decade, and in late 2017 it implemented a quota system to compel areas to suspend new projects until all of their energy was consumed. As a result, solar and wind energy additions declined in 2018 and 2019, reversing a half-decade of growth.

The good news is that China has developed more tools to deal with its excess of wind and solar power, such as: 

  • The construction of long-distance power lines to transport it to areas where it can be used

  • The development of energy storage systems that can absorb the power and redistribute it later when it is required. 

In light of the current world situation, the expansion of these solutions will be crucial. The world is already struggling in the battle against climate change and a further slowdown in the integration of renewable energy as the world's largest contributor would be catastrophic.

Source : Bloomberg