Renewable Gains and Challenges



While non-hydro renewable resources still only account for some 2 percent of China’s installed generation fleet, renewable energy in China has skyrocketed over the last decade.  On average, installed wind capacity has doubled annually since 2006. China was responsible for nearly half of all global installations in 2010, surpassing the US to achieve a total installed capacity of 42GW. Though solar domestic deployment lags behind other countries, China leads the world in PV manufacturing, accounting for approximately 40 percent of production in 2008.

This rapid development has been fostered by a favorable policy environment, including support for technology research and development, manufacturing and deployment dating back to the mid-1990s. The passing of the groundbreaking Renewable Energy Law in 2005 consolidated the legal foundation for renewable energy development and promoted it as a foremost national priority by requiring, among other things: a mandatory market share (similar to a renewable portfolio standard), purchasing and connection obligations on the grid companies, feed-in tariffs to compensate developers for costs over and above the cost of coal-fired generation and a surcharge on electricity rates to support renewable energy development.

Despite the gains, significant challenges lie ahead.  While China’s installed wind capacity, for example, tops that of any other country, roughly half of it is not generating electricity. The challenge of integrating remote and intermittent renewables is a formidable one for China, and this is a subject on which RAP and our partners at the Center for Resource Solutions and the Energy Foundation have been focused in recent efforts working with Chinese researchers.