Energy Snapshot of the Week

China electricity generation by source and CO₂ intensity in the New Policies Scenario

Combined capacity additions of renewables in China outpaced those of fossil fuels collectively for the first time in 2013, when China achieved the largest annual solar PV deployment in history (13 GW). The New Policies Scenario (NPS), the central scenario of the World Energy Outlook 2014, which takes into account the policies and implementing measures affecting energy markets that had been adopted as of mid-2014, shows that China installs over 960 GW of renewables-based capacity through 2040. This expansion is led by wind, solar PV, and hydropower, which together account for 55% of total national additions to power generation capacity and a quarter of renewables-based additions worldwide.

China remains the world leader in nuclear capacity additions during the NPS outlook period, averaging nearly 5 GW per year. Coal-fired generation in China grows more than in any other region, but the share of coal in the country’s electricity mix nonetheless declines substantially, from 76% in 2012 to 52% in 2040. Consistent policy support pushes up the shares of generation from non-hydro renewables (3% to 16%), nuclear (2% to 10%) and gas (2% to 8%). The share of hydropower falls by four percentage points, as opportunities to build large-scale dams diminish, though hydro generation still increases by 70% over the Outlook period, accounting for almost one-fourth of incremental hydro generation worldwide.

The increased deployment of low-carbon sources means the carbon intensity of China’s electricity mix falls by more than one-third.