This paper, part of a series of primers on the economic, institutional, political, and technological challenges of integrating renewable energy into power systems in China, focuses on electricity system planning. It explores the various electricity planning processes in China, centered around five-year planning, and their links to national industrial policy. It reviews the approval process for generation and transmission projects and explains how that process became disconnected from planning, with the result that the government approves new projects without transparent or objective criteria for how much capacity is needed and where. The authors identify three key planning challenges related to renewable energy, which will require better matching generation investment to needed capacity, making transmission expansion more economically efficient, and integrating environmental goals into the process.

This paper is also available here in Chinese.