In 2020, the Chinese government announced its twin intent to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Since establishing these landmark objectives, often referred to as the “dual carbon targets,” China has set in place a 1+N policy framework and issued high-level directives regarding the power sector. These directives focus on “speeding up the development of the new electric power system” and “optimizing clean energy generation.” 

In 2022, RAP released an initial version of this paper, presenting recommendations for power sector reforms to support and complement the 1+N directives. The recommendations are founded on our global team’s analysis of the feasibility of various measures in the power sector in other parts of the world and on our understanding of Chinese policies and institutions, including decades of discussion and collaboration with government authorities and partners. Our recommendations offer practical ways to follow these principles and build on China’s world-leading renewable energy investment — while containing costs and accelerating progress toward the dual carbon targets. 

This updated version addresses recent policy statements which imply a perceived trade-off between 1) an optimized new electric power system based on clean energy and 2) other goals such as power sector reliability and energy security. The experience of other countries — and of various pilot reforms in China — suggests, in contrast, that power sector reforms, such as those recommended, can enhance energy security and power sector reliability while also advancing China’s efforts towards the dual carbon targets.