China shuns coal and oil as it charts ‘green’ future

Bloomberg

Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 6

The world’s worst polluter is leading the clean energy revolution, the International Energy Agency said.

China is to account for a third of new wind and solar power installations and 40 percent of electric vehicle investments through 2040, the agency said yesterday in its World Energy Outlook report.

Meanwhile, the nation’s coal use peaked four years ago and it is to cede its role as the driver of global oil demand to India after 2025.

Underscoring the shift is a maturing economy that is moving away from energy-intensive industry and policies aimed at cleaning up air pollution, the report said.

Falling costs of renewables also play a role, as solar is expected to become China’s cheapest source of new electricity additions, surpassing natural gas by 2020 and coal by 2030.

“China is entering a new phase in its development, with the emphasis in energy policy now firmly on electricity, natural gas and cleaner, high-efficiency and digital technologies,” the report said. “China’s choices will play a huge role in determining global trends and could spark a faster clean energy transition.”

China has demanded a coal and oil-intense economy that over the past 15 years helped bring modern fuels to 260 million people who had been relying on burning wood and other biofuels.

New government policies aiming to reverse poor air quality are proving to be a boon for natural gas and renewables.

Natural gas use, which was about 210 billion cubic meters last year, is projected to grow by 400 billion by 2040. China’s imports are to be second to only the EU, making it a lynchpin of global trade.

China is already a leader in renewables, ranked first in the world by installed capacity of wind, solar and hydropower. Half of all additions to its electricity generating capacity since 2013 have been renewables or nuclear.

By 2040, the agency sees renewables accounting for 40 percent of total power generation. Coal, which contributes about 67 percent of generation now, is to fall to 40 percent over that period.