China’s renewable energy rollout is collapsing their grid also


China’s record-breaking deployment of wind and solar capacity has worsened regional power imbalances, forcing the country to idle increasing amounts of renewable generation when it overwhelms local consumption.

New government regulations aim to reduce the amount of renewable generation that has to be abandoned by increasing long-distance transmission links and better coordinating generation plans across provinces.

Since the end of 2018, China’s total generating capacity has increased by 1.137 billion kilowatts (kW), compound annual growth of 9%, according to data from the National Bureau of statistics (NBS).

Thermal capacity, mainly from coal-fired plants but some from gas-fired generators, rose by 257 million kW or 4% per year (“China statistical yearbook”, NBS, 2023).

Most capacity additions, however, have come from what the government calls “new energy sources” – wind farms (277 million kW, 19% per year) and solar generators (517 million kW, 29% per year). Increased penetration of intermittent renewables is making it harder to manage a nationwide transmission system that was already struggling with large regional imbalances between generation and load.

The solution to variable wind and solar output is to smooth out fluctuations across a larger number of generators spread over much larger areas of the country, which will require more transmission and better scheduling.



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