Provinces going big on wind and solar capacity

Local government plans would more than double China’s wind and solar power installed capacity by 2025, according to data from energy website

Last week, the website published a compilation of the 2025 targets for installed wind and solar and energy storage of 30 provincial jurisdictions. The data suggests that together the 30 provinces are aiming to increase their wind and solar power by 874GW, shattering expectations.

That would be a 138% increase in four years, given that by the end of 2021 China’s total installed wind and solar capacity was still 634GW, according to the National Energy Administration.

If the provincial plans are duly implemented, by 2025 China’s total wind and solar power generation capacity will add up to 15.08GW, far more than the 12GW it pledged to have achieved by 2030 in its NDC under the Paris Agreement.

As to energy storage, finds that 14 provinces have announced plans for 47.8GW of new non-hydro-pumping energy storage capacity, including batteries and compressed air. Eight provinces alone plan to add a total of 49.34GW of hydro-pumping storage.

In comparison, last year the central government announced a total target of 30GW for non-hydro and 62GW for hydro-pumping storage for the entire country by 2025. These have either already been exceeded by existing provincial plans or are likely to be exceeded when more provinces announce their targets. 

Existing central government Five Year Plans (FYPs) on energy don’t contain wind and solar installation targets. Their absence in the FYP for the energy system released in January led some to worry that China’s energy transition was being stalled by energy crunches. The one for renewables released in June only contains targets for actual generation and consumption. This could be due to pragmatism, as capacity that doesn’t translate into actual generation and consumption is wasteful. 

The state is currently putting emphasis on revamping the entire energy system – from infrastructure to technology and institutions – to prepare the foundation for intermittent renewables to truly take off. The big increases in provincial energy storage targets can be seen as part of that effort.

In 2021, the central government established a ratchet system to ensure increased uptake of renewables by provinces. In 2021, only Xinjiang missed its non-hydro renewable uptake target.

Read China Dialogue’s story on how China is going to revamp its energy system to prepare the ground for renewables.