China's power emissions are likely to peak in 2023 as increasing capacity from renewables and nuclear energy overtakes growth in demand, according to a report.
The analysis by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) found that:
• Total emissions are set to hit a record high this year following a rebound in industry following restrictions during the COVID pandemic
• The proportion of energy generated by wind, solar and non-fossil fuels has passed 50 percent for the first time
• Greenhouse gas emissions rose 4 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the first three months of 2022
• China has been expanding coal capacity to deal with peaks in demand caused by use of airconditioners during more extreme heatwaves
The rise in emissions is a result of increasing electricity demand and growth in manufacturing of construction materials such as steel and cement as the economy bounces back. Lower hyrdro-electric production - a result of scarce rainfall - also held back renewable generation.
Increasing demand for coal has meant a return to importing the fuel as the quality of domestic coal declines, the report found. Power shortages during the peak summer months last year prompted a rise in construction of new coal power plants as renewable sources are less able to scale up at short notice to meet surges in demand.
However, other clean energy sources saw rapid growth. Solar installations generated 34 gigawatts of power in the first quarter of the year, almost three times higher than 12 months earlier. CREA pointed out that the total UK solar output has hardly grown at all in the previous 5 years and remains around 13 gigawatts. New wind power sources added 10.4 gigawatts, one third up from a year ago. China is on track to meet its 2030 goals for solar and wind generation years ahead of schedule, CREA noted.