The National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic regulator, said on Sept 16 that China, the world’s largest electricity consumer, will eliminate obstacles to the use of wind and solar power by deepening reform of the electricity sector.
Although the capacity for wind and solar energy has grown massively in China in recent years, effective use of clean energy remains a challenge due to slower growth in demand as well as the relatively lower costs of coal-power generation.
Lian Weiliang, deputy director of the NDRC, told China Daily on Sept 16 that the country will select a few regions for a pilot program to carry out comprehensive reform of the electricity sector and improve effective use of wind and solar power.
“Wind and solar power capacity has grown quickly in China, but making effective use of renewable energy requires putting a host of technical measures and support efforts from the power grids in place, as well as implementing some reform plans,” Lian said.
China has started building a platform for electricity trading, allowing the market to set the price of electricity, Lian said.
Zhao Yongqiang, a researcher at the China National Renewable Energy Center, said such steps could ensure that renewable energy gains a priority position in development and fulfills the market-oriented transformation of the power system.
The country has set a goal of increasing its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent by 2030. However, the power grids still give priority to coal-powered plants, leaving wind and solar power with insufficient transmission capacity and other technical problems.
In the first six months of this year, more than 15 percent of the electricity generated from wind power in China was unused, a 6.8 percent increase year-on-year.
Similarly, about 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity generated from solar power also was unused, mainly in Northwest China, including Gansu province and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Weak demand for electricity also contributes to the problem of unused power. China’s electricity consumption, a gauge of economic activity, grew by 1 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of the year, particularly affected by the shrinking demand of industries.
The NDRC announced detailed plans for its first pilot plan for electricity transmission and distribution tariff reforms in Shenzhen, and the pilot program has been expanded to seven regions, said Lian from the NDRC.