China Plans $363 Billion Investment in Renewables Over Five Years

China rolled out its latest five-year energy development plan, detailing the country’s aim of investing about 2.5 trillion yuan (more than $363 billion) through 2020 in the development of renewable energy resources.

Yang Li Zhe, deputy director of China’s National Energy Board, explained the country’s vision during a press conference held in Beijing on January 5. The goal of the plan is to displace fossil fuels and transition to clean, low-carbon resources including hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy.

In the five-year plan released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission last month, energy development projects were also a major focus. That plan mentioned a number of renewable energy tasks, including the construction of 60 GW of hydropower capacity with priority given to southwestern projects, optimization of wind energy and photovoltaic energy projects in northern and coastal regions, and demonstration of solar thermal energy projects, among other things.

If the energy development scheme goes according to plan, solar, hydro, and wind power would be the biggest benefactors. Reports suggest 1 trillion yuan would be spent in the solar sector to boost capacity fivefold. Wind would garner spending of about 700 billion yuan, while hydropower would receive 500 billion yuan.

All of this comes as China slams the brakes on coal power projects. In April 2016, news surfaced that the country had suspended or slowed plans for more than 100 GW of coal-fired capacity. By the summer, overcapacity was said to be causing utilization of coal plants to plummet. Then in October, the government reportedly halted construction on at least 30 coal-fired plants.

However, even with focus shifting away from coal and toward renewables, China is still expected to get about 63% of its power from coal-fired generation in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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