The capacity of wind and solar power generation of China to surpass coal in 2024, paving a way for greener future

China’s installed capacity for wind and solar energy is expected to exceed that of coal by the end of this year, according to estimates by the Power Trade Association of the country.

China is poised to achieve a historic and innovative milestone as its installed capacity for wind and solar energy is expected to exceed that of coal by the end of this year, according to estimates of the power trade association of the country. This significant development corresponds with China’s commitment to sourcing around 80% of its energy needs from non-fossil fuel sources by 2060, a key target in its pursuit of carbon neutrality.

Non-fossil nuclear and hydropower energy already constitute more than half of the power-generating capacity in the world’s second-largest economy. The CEC’s (China Electricity Council) report on Tuesday revealed that China’s grid-connected wind and solar power generation capacity could surpass a remarkable 1,300 gigawatts (GW) by the end of this year. Of this capacity, approximately 530GW will come from wind energy and 780GW from solar energy.

This increase in renewable energy capacity is expected to elevate the share of wind and solar power to 40% of China’s total installed power generation capacity by 2024, marking a noteworthy rise from the 36% recorded at the end of 2023, as per the CEC projections.

In a notable achievement for 2023, the total installed capacity of power derived from non-fossil fuel sources, including renewables, nuclear, and hydropower, surpassed 50% of the total generation capacity for the first time, as reported by the CEC (China Electricity Council). It further said looking ahead to the end of 2024, the cumulative capacity of non-fossil fuel power is anticipated to reach 1,860GW or 57% of the total capacity. The country’s proactive approach to embracing renewable energy technologies, enhancing infrastructure, and diversifying its energy portfolio positions it as a global leader in sustainable development.

China plans to work towards having 80% of its total energy mix from non-fossil fuel sources by 2060. By this time China aims to become carbon neutral. As forecasted by the report of CEC, the coal-fired power share is anticipated to fall to at least 37% of the total installed capacity by the end of the year 2024 from 39.9% in 2023. Hao Yingjie, the secretary general of the CEC asserted, “Judging from the investments, growth rate of power-generation capacity and changes in power structures, the power industry continues to advance the trend of green and low-carbon transformation.” In terms of climate-warming greenhouse gases, China is the biggest producer in the world. Meanwhile, the CEC reports have not yet revealed the details and forecast about the share of renewable energy sources in power consumption.

As per CEC, coal power will account for around 60% of the total power use of China in the year 2023, becoming the dominant source in the current power supply. As per the estimated data, the electricity consumption of China will rise by at least 6% in 2024 to reach 9.8 trillion kilowatt hours. CEC said it would be slower compared to the 6.7% growth rate in 2023 when China lifted its zero-Covid policy.

CEC also said that because of the intermittent renewable power supply, some regions of the country will face few challenges and there will be high pressure on the power supply because of the continued growth in power consumption. The move towards greater reliance on wind and solar energy signals a transformative shift in the nation’s energy landscape, striving to transition to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.