"In a season of record temperatures, fires and floods, there’s a glimmer of
hope that averting the worst of climate change might still be possible. China,
the world’s top carbon emitter and greatest user of coal, is rolling out
renewables at breakneck speed.
This year alone, China could add more solar power than the cumulative total in
place in the United States. Last year, the increase in China’s solar and wind
power nearly matched the amount of electricity used in many of the world’s
major economies, including South Africa, Australia and Spain.
This dizzying pace means China’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak years ahead
of its 2030 target. And where one global power leads, others are compelled to
After several years of rapid installation, China’s solar and wind output is
big. Its total solar and wind power generation — not the annual increase — in
2022 was more than twice the electricity use of Canada, and far more than what
Brazil, Japan or Russia consumes. This year, its solar and wind output could
get close to the total power output of India.
China’s combination of economic clout, centralized power and rising energy
demand put it in a unique position. No other nation is rolling out renewables
nearly this fast. Many low- and middle-income countries need more energy but
lack the cash to build. Rich countries have cash but stagnant — or falling —
energy demand. That means they are replacing energy systems, which is a less
attractive investment than one driven by growth.
Of course, coal is the elephant in the room. China’s coal consumption is still
increasing — last year, it burned more of the carbon-intensive fuel than ever,
and two new plants were getting permitted every week. Ironically, this
fossil-fuel dependence is another factor making it easier for China than, say,
the United States to scale up renewables quickly. China deploys dirty power to
balance the intermittency of solar and wind. That means fewer batteries and
Via Future Crunch
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics