In Focus
ENVIRONMENT | Staff Reporter, China

China keeps on wasting renewable energy and it just gets worse: Greenpeace

Wasted wind energy is roughly equal to Beijin's annual power use.

Wind and solar power generation is skyrocketing in China, but a large – and growing – proportion is going to waste, according to the latest data by Greenpeace.

In 2016, China’s wind curtailment rate – the amount of wind power produced but not used – reached 17%, more than double what it was in 2014.

The amount of wasted wind energy over the past three years is roughly equal to Beijing’s annual electricity consumption.

Here's more from Greenpeace:

Meanwhile China’s solar curtailment rose by 50% in 2015 and 2016, with last year’s unused power equivalent to the total amount of solar energy generated in France in 2015.

Not only did all this clean energy fail to power homes and cut carbon emissions, it also cost China’s renewable energy industries nearly $5 billion (using today’s exchange rates).

The latest load of curtailment data, courtesy of Greenpeace East Asia, reveals the scale of the problem.

2016 saw tens of thousands of wind-powered terawatt-hours lost to curtailment, equivalent to the total generation of Spain’s wind turbine fleet in 2015.

And it’s getting worse in a hurry, with China’s curtailment rate jumping from 8% in 2014 to 17% just two years later, and costing the industry RMB 24.7 billion (= $3.5 billion).

Some provinces are grappling with the curtailment crisis more than others, with 43% of wind power generated in Gansu lost and 38% in Xinjiang wasted.

The solar sectors in these provinces are also hurting, with the curtailment rate reaching 30 and 32% respectively.

The cost of curtailment to the Chinese solar industry was RMB 9.4 billion (more than $1 billion) last year.

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