China needs $145B annual investment to meet 2030 targets — report

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

China must invest $145 billion per year in technologies to increase its use of renewable energy to meet the goals laid out in the recent U.S.-China climate deal, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

An annual additional injection of $54 billion above business as usual would enable the share of renewable energy in China’s energy mix to hit 26 percent, according to the report from IRENA with support from the China National Renewable Energy Centre. The report is part of IRENA’s goal to double the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix by 2030.

Without the additional investment, China would only hit 16 percent by 2030 under current policies, the report said. Under the recently announced U.S.-China climate deal, China had pledged to increase its non-fossil energy fuel share of total energy to 20 percent by 2030.

Using more renewables would drive down the use of coal by 18 percent by 2030 and would result in an annual savings of $55 billion to $228 billion by 2030 when accounting for externalities like human health and the environment, according to the report. It would also cut 1.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions in the next 20 years, IRENA said.

“China’s energy use is expected to increase 60 per cent by 2030,” Adnan Amin, director-general of IRENA, said in a statement. “How China meets that need will determine whether or not the world can curb climate change.”

Significant growth in onshore and offshore wind, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and biomass will make up a meaningful amount of the additional renewable energy technologies, and a 5 percent improvement in energy efficiency is assumed, the report said.

The need for more infrastructure, especially electric transmission, is a “major issue” that will also require substantial investment, according to the report. End-use sector technologies for buildings, industry and transportation would also require $60 billion per year in subsidies to be cost-competitive with fossil technologies, but the additional support would no longer be necessary by 2030, the report said.

In order to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, IRENA suggests China establish a national power market with incentives for flexible operation and boost government support for research and development of next-generation technologies.