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China speeds up development and utilization of renewable energy

By Liu Chengyou, Wang Mei (People's Daily)    11:32, January 29, 2021
China speeds up development and utilization of renewable energy
Photo taken on July 19, 2020, shows the Qinghai-Henan ±800 kV ultra-high voltage direct current power transmission project located among mountains. (People’s Daily Online/Liu Hui)

As China ramps up efforts to make its energy sector clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient, the country is seeing fast growth in the scale of development and utilization of renewable energy resources nationwide.

By the end of last August, its cumulative installed capacity of hydroelectric projects, wind power projects, and photovoltaic power projects had reached 360 million kW, 220 million kW, and 220 million kW respectively, the highest in the world.

As of the end of 2019, the country’s nuclear power plants in operation and under construction recorded a total installed capacity of 65.93 million kW, ranking second in the world.

Northwest China’s Qinghai province boasts rich clean energy resources. It has 100,000 square kilometers of desertified land that can be used as the sites of photovoltaic power generation facilities and wind farms, with the amount of exploitable solar energy exceeding three billion kW and that of exploitable wind energy 75 million kW.

On Dec. 30, 2020, the Qinghai-Henan ±800 kV ultra-high voltage (UHV) direct current (DC) power transmission project passed the test on full-voltage, full-current, and overload operation, and officially started ±800 kV full-voltage operation.

Stretching from the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Hainan, Qinghai province, all the way to Zhumadian city of central China’s Henan province, the Qinghai-Henan power transmission project is the first UHV DC power transmission project planned and built by the State Grid Corporation of China (State Grid) for large-scale development of new energy resources in Qinghai.

With a total length of 1,563 kilometers, the project runs through Qinghai province, northwest China’s Gansu province and Shaanxi province, and Henan province.

As the world’s first all-clean energy UHV power transmission project, it has served as a bridge between the abundant energy resources in Qinghai and the huge demand for energy in Henan.

On Jan. 22, a branch company of State Grid Henan Electric Power Company in Henan province carried out a fire drill to simulate emergency response procedures in case of fire caused by converter transformer malfunction at a converter substation of the power transmission project.

As the 16th fire drill carried out at the converter substation since the project was fully put into operation at the end of last year, the emergency drill was further guarantee of safe and stable operation of relevant equipment in the project.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, the project had accumulatively delivered 3.41 billion kWh of “green electricity” to Henan, saving the world from the emission of 2.53 million tons of carbon dioxide and the consumption of 1.54 million tons of raw coal, according to Li Qingjun, deputy director of the construction department of State Grid Qinghai Electric Power Company.

The “energy artery” has not only provided Henan province with access to clean energy from Qinghai, but also benefited central China’s Hubei and Hunan provinces and east China’s Jiangxi province. From July to August last year, Hubei and Jiangxi purchased 76 million kWh electricity via the Qinghai-Henan power transmission project.

China’s green energy development has played an important role in reducing carbon emission intensity.

By 2019, carbon emission intensity in China had decreased by 48.1 percent compared with that of 2005, which exceeded the target of reducing carbon emission intensity by 40 to 45 percent between 2005 and 2020, reversing the trend of rapid carbon dioxide emission growth, said a white paper titled “Energy in China’s New Era” released in December 2020 by the country’s State Council Information Office.

At the same time, China is moving increasingly faster toward a clean and low-carbon energy consumption structure.

Preliminary calculations indicate that coal consumption accounted for 57.7 percent of the country’s total energy consumption, 10.8 percentage points lower than that in 2012; the consumption of clean energy, such as natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, and wind power, accounted for 23.4 percent of the total amount of energy used in China, an increase of 8.9 percentage points over 2012; and non-fossil energy accounted for 15.3 percent of China’s total energy consumption, up 5.6 percentage points against 2012.

China has reached the target of raising the share of non-fossil energy to 15 percent in total energy consumption by 2020, the white paper pointed out.

With rapid improvement in its energy science and technology capabilities, the country has established complete industrial chains for the manufacturing of clean energy equipment for hydropower, nuclear power, wind power, and solar power.

China has successfully developed and manufactured the world’s largest single-unit hydropower generators, with a capacity of one million kW. In July 2020, China’s first self-developed offshore wind turbine with a capacity of 10 MW started operation in Fuqing city of southeast China’s Fujian province. It represents the largest single-unit wind turbine in Asia and the second largest single-unit wind turbine in the world.

“Renewable energy has become a major approach to tackling climate change. In an effort to realize the goal to achieve peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, renewable energy will be a main part in China’s energy increment in the future,” said Tao Ye, deputy director of the renewable energy development center of the Energy Research Institute under China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). 


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