China’s New Renewable Project Rivals All Wind and Solar in India

Source: By Bloomberg News • Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2021

China has started building a massive renewable energy project that’s bigger than all of the wind and solar power in India.

Construction on the first phase, comprising 100 gigawatts of wind and solar, in the desert has started smoothly, President Xi Jinping said via video link Tuesday at a United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming.

That’s more than the entire wind and solar capacity installed in India, according to BloombergNEF, and it would be able to generate four times as much power as the Three Gorges Dam.

The announcement echoes an unconfirmed report from last month that China was planning a 400-gigawatt project in the desert, with half the capacity to be constructed by 2025. Details are scant about the project, including exactly where it is and how spread out the installations will be. However, a likely location is western China, where existing and planned power lines link renewables projects to the main demand centers in the east.

See also: China’s Giant Renewables Project Will Redraw Energy Map

“China will continue to promote the adjustment of industrial structure and energy structure, vigorously develop renewable energy, and accelerate the planning and construction of large-scale wind and solar projects in desert areas,” Xi said via the video link.

Anyone hoping to hear more details about how China plans to reach its long-term climate goals was likely disappointed. Xi reiterated that China will release plans to peak emissions by 2030 in key areas and sectors, aided by a series of supporting measures, but didn’t provide any further details on timing.

The president’s speech came on the heels of comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that called into question the pace of the nation’s energy transition. A deepening energy crisis is exposing the difficulty in executing the country’s path to carbon neutrality ahead of global climate talks, known as COP26, set to be begin on Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.

See also: China Rethinks Path to Climate Goals Due to Energy Crisis

Xi also pledged to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund with an initial investment of 1.5 billion yuan ($232 million) in his speech at the conference, which was delayed by 17 months due to the coronavirus.

“When we protect nature, it rewards us,” Xi said. “When we exploit nature ruthlessly, it punishes us without mercy.”

World leaders and negotiators are expected to hammer out a deal to arrest ecological destruction over the next decade that will cover conserving natural habitats, cutting plastic waste and pesticides and raising funds to help developing nations protect ecosystems. The sessions this week will largely be conducted virtually as a result of China’s stringent Covid-19 rules. The real negotiations won’t happen until next April.

— With assistance by John Liu, Jing Li, Karoline Kan, and Dan Murtaugh