The rise of renewable energy in China

A colored picture of rows and rows  solar farm in China.
Image from Rocky Mountain Institute
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
12 January 2020

Throughout 2019 more and more Chinese companies set sustainability targets in an effort to green their electricity load, according to a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute. 

This commitment has gone onto make renewable energy one of the largest developing economies in the country, with unprecedented strategic value and market growth potential.

Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center (BRC) China team has been monitoring and tracking the development of corporate renewable energy procurement for three consecutive years and recently released the ‘State of the Market 2019’ report.

The report shows that throughout 2019 government subsidies and national installation targets drove rapid growth in renewables across China  –  demonstrating that the commitment from China’s renewable energy industry to improve air quality, accelerate energy transition, and cultivate the local wind and solar industry across the country, has paid off.

White text that reads 'Creating a Clean Energy Future'
Image from Rocky Mountain Institute

While China’s power market is undergoing continuous reform the mechanisms available for corporates to procure renewable energy remain limited. The report covers the major policies implemented in 2019 addressing these limitations, including the release of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the development of subsidy-free projects, and the introduction of auction mechanisms for subsidised projects, along with their respective implications on corporate procurement. 

The report suggests that corporates refer to different criteria, such as scale, economics, availability, and additionality, to select the portfolio of solutions that fit their corporate strategy in both the short term and the long term.

BRC China's goal is to support the development of renewable procurement options by addressing market challenges through collaborative industry and policymaker engagement. 

With the continuous power market deregulation, RMI believe corporate demand will play an increasingly important role in integrating renewable energy into the grid, while helping China both drive renewable energy costs down to grid parity and reduce curtailment.

In December 2014, Carbon War Room (which was co-founded in 2009 by Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs wanting to speed up the adoption of market-based solutions to climate change) merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute – a US-based NGO, dedicated to transforming global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. Together, they work across all energy sectors to accelerate the energy transition and reduce carbon emissions.