China takes world’s top spot in offshore wind power
China has become the world leader in offshore wind capacity thanks to huge growth last year. The installed capacity of China’s offshore windfarms surged by 16.9GW in 2021, China’s state broadcaster CCTV
reported on Tuesday. The outlet cited statistics from the state energy regulator, the National Energy Administration (NEA). This means that China’s current installed capacity of offshore wind – reported as 26.4GW – is around 2.5 times that of the previous world leader, the UK. (The UK’s offshore wind capacity was 11GW
as of the third quarter of 2021.) According to the official figures, China built 47.6GW of wind power capacity – both onland and offshore – last year.
NO 1: CCTV said that the 16.9GW offshore increase was 1.8 times the country’s previously installed offshore wind capacity. It added that China had “jumped to the world’s number one” in the installed capacity of offshore wind power.
The 16.9GW leap means that China built more offshore wind capacity in 2021 than the rest of the world, combined, had done in the last five years, according to analysis by Dr Simon Evans
, Carbon Brief’s deputy editor. He added that China’s offshore wind capacity now accounts for half of the world’s total. (Read Dr Evans’s full analysis on Twitter
The combined increase of China’s installed capacity of solar and wind power reached 101GW in 2021, CCTV reported. The news came as the NEA announced
on Wednesday that China’s solar and wind capacity had reached 635GW by the end of 2021. It also came as analysis
by the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA
) – a government-approved not-for-profit organisation – showed that major state-owned power companies had set goals of installing a total of 600GW of additional solar and wind power during the 14th five-year period
from 2021 to 2025. CWEA pointed out that China’s current goal (see its updated NDC
) is to boost its solar and wind capacity to more than 1,200GW by 2030, but if those power companies see through their plans, China could hit its solar and wind target by 2025, five years ahead of schedule.
QUOTES: Rebecca Wiliams
, global head of offshore wind at the Global Wind Energy Council
, told Carbon Brief that the 47.6GW increase of all wind power capacity from China was “another landmark moment for the wind industry”. She said: “These dramatic levels of installations reflect the possibilities of transforming an energy mix under ambitious policy targets, economies of scale and effective market incentives. The expiry of the feed-in tariff for offshore wind in China by the end of 2021 clearly motivated a rush to connect, which has resulted in China knocking the UK off the top spot when it comes to the world’s offshore wind market. China will need to continue to deploy large amounts of wind in order to meet its energy transition goals.”
Xi chairs ‘collective study session’ over climate goals
On Monday, China’s president Xi Jinping addressed his top officials about the nation’s carbon peaking and carbon-neutrality drive. In the speech – delivered in a so-called “collective study session” held by China’s Politburo – Xi re-asserted the significance of achieving the “dual-carbon” targets. Senior officials – including China’s vice-premiers
Liu He, who oversees economy and technology, and Hu Chunhua, who is in charge of agriculture – shared their experiences carrying out the nation’s carbon-neutrality agenda in their respective sectors. China’s state news agency Xinhua
released a 2,660-character readout of Xi’s address. CCTV
aired a 10-minute news clip.
The Politburo – known in full as the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China – is the supreme decision-making body of the party and currently has 25 members
. It organises “collective study sessions” regularly to discuss key national issues. The purposes of those sessions are not to issue new directives, but to ensure that all senior officials have a unanimous understanding of important national strategies and policies.
According to Xinhua
, Xi underlined in the speech the importance of “profoundly analysing” China’s “situation and tasks” on promoting its climate agenda and “making solid efforts” to “implement decisions and arrangements” from the top. Caixin
– an independent Chinese financial outlet – highlighted Xi’s messages of “developing light energy, silicon energy, hydrogen energy and renewable energy actively and orderly”. Jiemian
– a Shanghai-based state-affiliated news site – reported that Xi had, for the first time, directed the country to fast-track its development of a “supply and consumption system for renewable energy”. It said that the move would propel the growth of wind and solar energy.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph
interpreted Xi’s speech as an indication that “China signals shift on climate”. It reported that “President (Xi) says jobs will be prioritised over the environment in the near-term”. (Carbon Brief cannot find this specific instruction in Xinhua or CCTV’s readout of the speech.) But the newspaper went on to say that the tone of Xi’s address “did not necessarily indicate a slowing down of its ambitions”, quoting Yan Qin
, lead analyst at Refinitiv. According to Reuters
, Xi underlined the importance of ensuring “the ‘normal life’ of ordinary people” while pursuing low-carbon goals. It read Xi’s address as “signalling a more cautious approach to the climate emergency as the economy slows”. Bloomberg
’s report focused on Xi’s emphasis on energy security. “President Xi Jinping said efforts to achieve China’s climate targets need to work in lockstep with the government’s other objectives,” the outlet wrote. The Guardian
also covered the story.
SIGNIFICANCE: Ma Xinyue
– China research and project leader at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center – told Carbon Brief that Xi’s speech summarised “the rationale reflected in the series of policy documents recently published under the ‘1+N
’ policy framework”. It also put China’s decarbonisation policies “within the context of securing energy supply and structural transformation”, Ma noted. She pointed out that the address went to “quite some lengths” to address the balance between the cost of decarbonisation and the need for economic development. Ma described the issue as a “key policy challenge for decarbonisation in developing countries”.
QUOTES: Ma said: “As coal prices again begin to rise and the tension between power demand and supply continues, the speech comes at a critical point in time. It reinforces the central government’s determination, not only clarifying why we’re doing this, but also illustrating a policy framework encompassing all areas of carbon production and consumption. Furthermore, it spells out strategies for specific technologies and policy instruments.”
Although most of Xi’s speech recapped the government’s previous orders, one highlight was Xi’s introduction of “four pairs of relations”, which he said China would need to handle well in its pursuit of carbon neutrality. They were, in order, the relations between “development and emissions reduction”, “whole and part”, “long-term goals and short-term goals”, as well as “government and market”. (The first three pairs were mentioned last August in an article
written by Zhang Jianhua, director of China’s National Energy Administration. The last pair is believed to be new.) Xi said that China must carry out decarbonisation while ensuring energy security, supply-chain security and food security, as well as the “normal life” of the masses under the first pair of relations.
QUOTES: In Ma’s views, the “four pairs of relations” were a “timely re-emphasis on the key nuances that need to be taken care of to achieve a just and equitable transition”. She said: “Since we are talking about environmental values that had not been captured before and markets that didn’t exist before, the government has a key role to play in guiding these areas of development – the government needs to fill the gaps of the market before it is mature, incentivise and regulate the market players, and also nurture the market space to generate innovation and efficiency.”