x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A cocktail of electricity sources for China

China is investing heavily in several energy sectors as part of a plan to increase its electricity generating capacity to 1.6 terawatts by 2020.

Technicians work in the Daya Bay nuclear power station in China. CLP Holdings via Bloomberg News
Technicians work in the Daya Bay nuclear power station in China. CLP Holdings via Bloomberg News

China is investing heavily in several energy sectors as it aims to increase its electricity generating capacity to 1.6 terawatts by 2020. The country is also seeking alternatives to coal - it accounts for 48 per cent of global consumption of the fuel - and oil.

Solar

Analysts have said China has been subsidising its solar panel manufacturers to reduce costs ahead of a planned rapid expansion in installations in the country. The country is the world's largest producer of solar panels but buys only a small part of the global output. By 2020, China wants to have 50 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity, more than 100 times the current figure.

Wind

While China is taking its time with its solar power installations, it is already the world leader in wind energy, increasing its capacity by more than 70 per cent last year to 45 gigawatts, a figure the country aims to triple by 2020. As well as state-owned manufacturers such as United Power, China also plays host to factories from foreign producers such as Denmark's Vestas.

Hydro

China has the world's largest hydroelectric power plant by capacity, the Three Gorges Dam, and installed nearly 4 gigawatts of hydro power capacity from January to May this year. The country aims to have 320 gigawatts of installed hydro power capacity by 2020. But many dam projects have encountered environmental opposition.

Nuclear

After the nuclear crisis began in Japan in March, China said it would reduce its 2020 target of 80 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity, without giving a revised figure. Some analysts have wondered how China can drastically scale back its nuclear expansion plans without causing severe power shortages.