BEIJING: Recent figures on last year's energy mix in China suggest a shift to renewables is underway, driven partly by national coal production which has dropped for the first time this century.
At the beginning of 2014 renewables – mainly hydropower, wind and solar – accounted for around 30% of total Chinese electricity grid capacity, according to researchers Japan Focus. This figure is only expected to increase as clean energy investment rises and traditional fuel production fluctuates.
China Coal Industry Association (CCIA) reported to State news agency Xinhua a 2.1% fall in coal production from January to November 2014 compared to 2013, with a decline for the whole year of 2.5%. According to CCIA’s figures, the country imported 291.22 million tons of coal throughout the year, a decline of 10.9%, exporting only 5.74 million tons, a fall of 23.5%.
Xinhua claims that much of the pressure on the coal industry is due to increased environmental concerns coupled with demanding new emissions reduction policies and regulations from the Chinese government that are favorable to renewable energy. Implementation of new environmental regulations have indeed boosted the renewables market, turning China into the world's largest investor in clean technologies in 2014. Investments increased 32% compared to 2013, with a record US$89.5 billion in clean energy technologies.
Changhua Wu, Great China Director of The Climate Group said: ''It is very encouraging to witness China’s rapid and sharp progress toward low carbon energy. At The Climate Group, we have extensively worked to stimulate negotiations and talks between the Chinese government and low carbon stakeholders, promoting and facilitating a flux of investments in the renewable energy sector.
“An example of such convening is our first Cleantech Summit in Beijing last September, where we brought top clean tech innovators, industrials and investors together. We look forward to continuing the transformation of China’s energy mix to create a prosperous, low carbon future for all.”