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China's Renewable Energy Wastage Increases

28 Apr 10:00 by Steve Walia

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Greenpeace has calculated that China wasted enough green energy last year to power Beijing for a year. In a report, the conservation group flagged up that pledges by the Chinese government to address the issue had not been met.

Last year, the country's leaders committed to improving their power transmission line network and preventing the issue of curtailment, which occurs when renewable energy is effectively producing more clean power than the transmission network can handle. It is a perfect example of how a technological mismatch can lead to waste - in this case, with efficient new green energy developments being hampered by outdated and ineffective electricity transmission lines.

Greenpeace found that, for wind power, there was a wastage increase of 17pc by generation in 2016, an increase of 9pc from 2014. This means that the amount of clean energy that was never transmitted to the grid for use was equivalent to the energy needs of Beijing for an entire year.

At the same time, curtailment rates in solar power grew by 50pc in 2015 and 2016. This means that over a third of the available solar energy in areas such as Gansu and Xinjiang never made it to the national grid.

An earlier report by Greenpeace showed that investment in wind and solar energy technologies could reach $780 billion USD before 2030. China generated 12.3 billion kWh of solar energy in Q1 of 2017 - a 31pc year-on-year increase. Construction of the transmission grid has fallen behind, however, with the country focusing on expensive ultra-high-voltage cross-country transmission lines, which are best suited for large-scale power generation developments. 

Many regions are using solar and wind as peak-period electricity generation back-ups, and much of the technology is falling idle when demand drops.