China’s new plan for renewable energy development focuses on consumption

China’s focus on consumption penetration for renewable energy development in its recently released 14th five-year plan – 2021 to 2025 – rather than capacity installations, should add flexibility in adding installations and alleviate curtailment risk, Fitch Ratings said in a note.

China targets for renewables to supply 33% to national power consumption by 2025, and for non-hydro renewables to contribute 18%; the two consumption quota targets are 4.3pp and 3.6pp higher than 2021 levels, respectively. Correspondingly, China expects to increase annual renewable generation to 3,300 terawatt hours by 2025, implying a CAGR of 7%-8% in the next four years.

The 14th five-year plan does not specify a target for renewable power capacity, unlike previous plans. This should allow for more flexibility on annual capacity additions in 2022-2025, which can instead be driven by power demand growth and the power system’s ability to consume the newly added installations.

Fitch said such flexibility in capacity installations should also alleviate curtailment risk from oversupply, supported by the fast development of storage systems, combined with the well-planned locations of new projects, including at large renewable bases that will contribute the majority of new installations under the plan.

Most renewable bases will be located at load centres, such as Hebei and Shandong, or in desert and deserted areas, including those in Inner Mongolia and Gansu, where land is cheaper, renewable resources are abundant and UHV lines – which transmit power intra-provincially to specific load centres – are established or will become available, it added.

New projects with grid offtakes can sell pre-agreed volume at fixed prices, but the amount of renewable power generated in excess of the offtake volume and projects without grid offtakes will be traded in the market.

The 14th five-year plan encourages renewable generation companies and end-users to enter long-term contracts. Trading premiums are likely to occur in coastal regions, where renewable resources are limited, but demand for green energy is increasingly robust, while renewable power produced in provinces with excess supply may be traded at a discount, Fitch said.

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