China can double its current use of renewable energy to 26% by 2030, with solar PV accounting 6% of all renewable energy use by that time, according to a new report released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Backed by the China National Renewable Energy Centre, IRENA’s report, Renewable Energy Prospects: China, outlines each renewable energy source’s 2030 potential in China, with solar PV achieving one of the largest rates of growth in China and throughout the world’s energy sector.
The report is based on IRENA’s proposed REmap 2030, a plan to double the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix by 2030, but is not aligned with many countries’ current projected energy paths, including China’s.
Currently, China’s policies expect renewable energy to increase its share in the country’s energy combination to 17%, with the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy rising from 20% to 30%. According to IRENA’s proposal, an annual increase of US$54 billion, bringing China’s total renewable energy annual investment to US$145 billion, would see renewables account for 26% of China’s energy mix by 2030, and 40% of its electricity.
For solar, REmap 2030 foresees a total installed capacity of 308GW, 40% of it distributed, instead of the predicted 109GW based on current plans. The report said 308GW would be twice the current worldwide installed PV capacity.
The report assumes the power sector accounts for 49% of all renewable energy demand, heat 47% and transport fuels 4%. Based on these assumptions, the reports envisaged growth in PV would make it the third most important source of renewable electricity by 2030 after hydro (21%) and wind (17%).
In 2013, China installed 13GW of solar PV, including 1GW from distributed projects such as rooftop PV. It currently accounts for two-thirds of global solar panel production.
“As the largest energy consumer in the world, China must play a pivotal role in the global transition to a sustainable energy future,” said Mr. Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of IRENA, at a report launch event in Beijing. “China’s energy use is expected to increase 60% by 2030. How China meets that need will determine whether or not the world can curb climate change.”
In following REmap 2030, IRENA said China would become the world’s largest renewable energy user.
IRENA's scenario would go beyond what China has so far agreed to. Earlier this month, China and the USA announced a bilateral deal to slash carbon emissions, with China signing up to a 20% renewable energy target by 2030.