Details are emerging of a plan by the authorities in Beijing to institute a more centrally planned approach to PV project development.
Two branches of the government have reportedly agreed to focus on ensuring solar power projects are based in the east of the populous nation, because transmission infrastructure failings in the north and northwest of China have led to unacceptably high curtailment issues.
Curtailment – energy that is generated but wasted – has attracted the attention of the central authorities as part of the government’s plan to get the most from solar, while reducing the strain on the public purse.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration will “soon” launch a three-year plan that will involve limiting curtailment of power generated from PV projects to less than 5%.
Curtailment worse for wind
The figures cited by the state bodies illustrate the problem is even more pronounced in the wind power sector. Whereas the solar ambition is to keep curtailment below 5% this year and maintain the achievement for the next two years, the wind power traget this year is to limit power losses to less than 12%, falling to the same level as solar in 2020.
The national curtailment figure for both types of renewable energy has risen to more than 10% this year, from around 6% in the previous two years. Within that national figure, energy losses can be as high as 30% or more in China’s north and northwest, where abundant solar and wind resources are counterbalanced by the difficulty of transmitting clean energy to the nation’s sprawling urban centers.
As far as central planning is concerned, Beijing reportedly wants new technology to improve grid peak shaving ability and for the electricity trading market to develop more quickly, in addition to the trailed geographical shift in focus for future project development.
By Vincent Shaw