China will receive much attention during the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. China’s attempts to decarbonize its energy system as the world’s top CO2 emitter will be essential in achieving the aim of limiting global average surface temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
(Photo : Image by Sebastian Ganso from Pixabay )
China Going Solar
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The Asian giant has already made significant promises to switching its energy systems to renewables, including solar, wind, and hydropower generation. However, many questions remain regarding solar energy’s future in China, including its cost, technological viability, and grid compatibility in the following decades. Moreover, recent cost estimates for China’s future solar energy potential have relied on obsolete and exaggerated pricing for solar panels and installation and storage technologies such as lithium-ion batteries.
How much will solar electricity truly cost in China in the following decades, considering the grid’s intrinsic variability?
According to Harvard, Tsinghua University in Beijing, Nankai University in Tianjin, solar energy may meet 43.2 percent of China’s electricity consumption in 2060 for less than two-and-a-half US cents per kilowatt-hour Renmin University of China in Beijing researchers. In China, coal power tariffs in 2019 varied from 3.6 to 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The study was featured on the cover of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“The findings point to a critical energy transition point, not only for China but for other countries, where combined solar power and storage systems become a cheaper and more grid-compatible alternative to coal-fired electricity,” said Michael B. McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and co-corresponding author of the study.
“Today, subsidy-free solar power is cheaper than coal power in most parts of China, and due to technological advancements and cost declines, this cost-competitive advantage will soon extend to the entire country,” said Xi Lu, Associate Professor, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, and co-corresponding author of the paper. “Our findings show that solar power’s economic competitiveness paired with storage system investments might bring additional grid dispatch advantages, which will be especially essential for the operation of future electric systems in China.”
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Lu earned his Ph.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and worked as a postdoctoral researcher and research associate at the Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy, and Environment, housed at SEAS.
The study team created an integrated …….