China on Wednesday issued a key energy strategy that sets obligatory 2020 targets for renewables and nuclear power use and urges increased natural gas consumption—but which also caps coal consumption.
The State Council’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan covers the period between 2014 and 2020. It caps annual energy primary consumption at 4.8 billion metric tons of the standard coal equivalent until 2020, meaning the country’s growth rate of primary energy consumption won’t exceed 3.5% for the next six years.
Among the plan’s more noteworthy requirements is an annual coal consumption cap of 4.2 billion metric tons until 2020, with specific targets for regions around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta. Those key economic zones have been battling a critical haze problem, and a plan approved by the State Council earlier this May requires they reduce coal use by the end of 2017.
The plan also calls for the share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix to rise to 15% by 2020 from 9.8% in 2013. Last week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged to boost the country’s share of non-fossil fuel energy to around 20% by 2030.
The strategy banks on the timely construction of nuclear power plants on the eastern coastal regions, but it also requires conducting feasibility studies for new nuclear plants inland, all of which have stalled on water shortage concerns. China wants to install as much as 58 GW of nuclear power by 2020 and have about 30 GW or more under construction by then.
Other targets requires the country to get more than 10% of its energy from natural gas and less than 62% from coal by 2020. Coal last year made up 66% of China’s energy consumption.
—Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)