China leads the world in renewable energy

A third of the world’s investment in renewable energy last year came from China, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency has said.

Adnan Amin, director-general of IRENA which has 149 member states and works with governments to promote the adoption of sustainable energy sources, said that of $330 billion invested globally last year, $103 billion had come from China.

Addressing the International Forum on Energy Transitions, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, Mr Amin said: “China is taking the lead in renewable energy development. Last year, China’s wind and hydropower newly-installed capacity accounted for more than half of the world’s total. Its photovoltaic newly-installed capacity accounted for one third.”

An IRENA report said in June that the cost of photovoltaic power would drop by 59 per cent by 2025, based on the $0.50 average price of a kilowatt in 2015. Wind-generated power will fall by 35 per cent for offshore sources and 25 per cent for on-land farms in the same period.

China was praised last year for its efforts in renewable energy by the Agence Internationale de l’?nergie, an intragovernmental OECD agency based in Paris that advises its 29 member states on energy policy. Maria van der Hoeven, then the chief executive, noted that China was spending as much as Europe and the USA combined on clean energy, and said: “People think about China in a way more representative of previous decades.”

The reality, she said, was that China’s coal-powered stations were state-of-the-art and should be imitated by other developing countries.

China should be given more credit for its investments in clean energy, she said. “They are now the largest wind-power market in the world. They have increased their power generation from renewables from really nothing ten years ago. China is moving in the right direction.”

Last year Beijing was among the first governments to submit its plans for reducing carbon emissions under the UN drive to control global climate change. It set out impressive goals, including peaking its emissions by 2030 or sooner and increasing its low-carbon energy sources to 20 per cent of the total. This summer plans were ratified by China and the US that helped to create a domino effect of pledges under last year’s Paris Agreement on climate change.

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the US presidency, has said that he will “cancel” any agreements to limit America’s greenhouse gas emissions in any way as well as boost the country’s dying coal industry. Mr Trump has said repeatedly that man-made climate change is a hoax, and tweeted in 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”.