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Electrification and accelerating renewables could ‘put China on net zero path'

Energy research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF) has released a new study detailing how China can take steps towards meeting its recent carbon neutrality pledge. According to the report, electrifying final energy use in sectors such as industry and road transport, coupled with accelerated deployment of renewables, will be key.

Produced in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the report uses the New Energy Outlook, BNEF’s annual long-term scenario analysis on the future of the energy economy, to consider two scenarios for China: the ‘Economic Transition Scenario’ and the ‘Accelerated Transition Scenario’.

The former describes the diffusion and deployment of technologies that are already available today. Post-2023, the latter pathway considers a higher rate of direct electrification in road transport, buildings and industry, combined with increased uptake of zero-emission electricity supply.

The Accelerated Transition Scenario requires $7.9trn worth of investment in electricity generation capacity in China over the next three deacdes. That’s more than double the $3.3trn needed under the Economic Transition Scenario.

Wind and solar account for 74% of generation capacity in the Accelerated Transition Scenario in 2050, with wind reaching just over 3.6 TW and solar 4.2 TW. Offshore wind also plays an increasingly prominent role, reaching 740 GW by 2050.

The Accelerated Transition Scenario also sees electricity accounting for 53% of China’s final energy consumption by 2050, some 92% of which is delivered by zero carbon power sources dominated by solar and wind, with hydrogen-fuelled gas turbines providing balancing needs. 

This faster transition sees emissions in the power sector peak as early as 2024 and decrease quickly thereafter. China is the world’s largest carbon emitter, accounting for 28% of global emissions in 2018. 

BNEF says that progress toward carbon neutrality will be no small feat as the country’s energy demand and emissions are still rising. Around 90% of China’s emissions come from electricity and heat production, industry and transport.

‘As China becomes a more developed economy, it should carry more responsibility in fighting climate change,’ says Nannan Kou, Head of China research at BNEF. ‘Especially as a faster transition will also bring more opportunities for China’s manufacturing sector. Better and cheaper clean technologies such as PV panels and batteries will benefit the transition of every country.’

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: China -

Organisation: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Subjects: Renewables - Electricity - Net zero - Decarbonisation -

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