China builds twice as much wind power and photovoltaic capacity as the rest of the world

China consolidates its position as a world leader in renewable energy, currently building twice as much wind and photovoltaic capacity as the rest of the world, according to a study published this Thursday.

The Asian giant, with 1.4 billion inhabitants and numerous factories due to its status as a manufacturing country, is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which according to scientists, accelerate climate change.

China pledged to stabilize or reduce its emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

To try to meet its goals, it is significantly expanding its renewable energy capacity.

China is currently building an additional 180 gigawatts (GW) of solar power and 159 GW of wind power, according to a study by the US-based Global Energy Monitor (GEM).

According to the report, this total of 339 GW “represents 64% of the solar and wind energy” that is “currently under construction” on the planet, almost double that of the rest of the world combined.

China is followed by the United States (40 GW), Brazil (13 GW), the United Kingdom (10 GW) and Spain (9 GW), according to GEM, an organization that lists fossil and renewable energy projects around the world.
Coal still persists

These 339 GW represent a third of all new wind and solar capacity announced by national authorities and whose construction has already begun, “which is well above” the world average (7%), the study notes.

“The striking contrast between these two percentages illustrates the active nature of China’s commitment to the construction of renewable energy projects,” he emphasizes.

China, however, still relies heavily on its coal plants, a highly polluting fossil fuel, to meet its growing demand for electricity.

It also has difficulty transporting some of the renewable energy produced in remote regions to the densely populated economic centers in the east.

However, its combined wind and solar energy capacity should exceed that of coal this year, the GEM study points out.

According to the research, this rapid expansion of renewable energy means that Chinese emissions are expected to peak earlier than expected.
A turning point

China also did not grant new permits for coal steel plants in the first half of 2024, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea), a Finnish-based research institute, said in another report published on Thursday.

The research, which speaks of a possible “turning point”, highlights that this is the first semester in which permits of this type have not been granted since September 2020, when China announced its emissions commitments for 2030 and 2060.

“With steel demand in China reaching a peak,” there is “significant potential to phase out coal-based production, representing a significant opportunity to reduce emissions over the next 10 years.” , stated Crea.

According to scientists, global warming intensifies extreme weather events and makes them more frequent.

China is currently experiencing a summer marked by torrid heat in the north and torrential rains in the southern half of the country.

The rains have caused a series of deadly floods and landslides in recent weeks.