Chinese officials set ambitious and unlikely 100 GW goal

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has told the Chinese parliament the nation will strive to put the brakes on coal consumption in a bid to address the air pollution afflicting its major cities on the same day a 100 GW solar target was announced.

A report in Friday’s South China Morning Post refers to comments made by Li in his government work report to parliament on Thursday in which he stated: "We will strive for zero per cent growth in the consumption of coal in key areas of the country."

The pledge came on the same day as the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top state planning agency, promised to address air pollution and overcapacity in polluting sectors of the economy, such as the steel and concrete industries, by encouraging consolidation.

The announcement comes also at a time when awareness of air pollution issues in China has been piqued by the documentary film Under the Dome. The film is similar in style and substance to Vice President Al Gore’s 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth. Under the Dome became an unexpected viral hit in China, however the Wall Street Journal reported today that it appears to have been taken down from video streaming sites or replaced with other content.

100 GW solar target this year

The South China Morning Post report cites remarks by the nation’s top energy official, Nur Bekri, yesterday, when he pledged to drive solar capacity up to 100 GW this year from 26.5 GW at the end of 2014.

Nur promised wind capacity of 200 GW this year, up from 95.8 GW, but also said improving the efficiency and the environmental standards of coal would be a central plank of China’s energy policy in 2015.

According to the Morning Post report, China will also look to increase its natural gas consumption to 245 billion cubic meters, using coalbed methane and shale.

The report adds China is aiming to reduce its energy intensity – the amount of energy used per unit of GDP growth – by 16% of its 2011 figure by the end of this year.

Premier Li’s report to parliament says that aim will be achieved with a 3.1% reduction this year to follow last year’s 4.8% fall.