context: The targets set out in this plan are largely consistent with other high-level plans and do not represent any major change to ambition. They will likely be easily achieved. Planners aim for the share of renewables in the power grid to rise by about 1 percent per year through to 2025. This will then gradually accelerate, as the National Development and Reform Commission aims to have 40 percent of the nation’s electricity coming from renewables by 2030.

By 2025, power generated by renewable sources will fulfil at least 50 percent of new demand for electricity, promises the ‘14th 5-year plan for renewable energy development’, issued 1 Jun 2022. The plan also aims to have wind and solar power generation double by 2025 compared to 2020 levels, implying that output from these two sources should reach roughly 1450 TWh per year by 2025.

Other major targets, all of which are anticipatory (i.e. non-binding) for 2025, include

  • consumption of renewable energy to reach 1 bn tsce (tonnes of standard coal equivalent), up 47 percent from 2020
  • generating roughly 3300 TWh from renewables (inc. hydro) per year by 2025, up 50 percent from 2020
  • power from renewables (inc. hydro) will make up about 33 percent of total electricity consumption, with 18 percent coming from non-hydro

The plan was jointly issued by nine ministries, underscoring the importance of renewables in coming years, reports Caixin. For two years now, NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) has set targets for each province to have a certain percentage of renewable and non-hydro renewable energy in their electricity consumption, which are then assessed for completion (e.g. Gansu’s target was to have 49.5 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2021, but fell short by 2.6 percent). The new plan will incorporate performance on these targets in local government evaluations, raising the stakes for local officials to ensure they are met.

For the first time, the plan also touches on the non-electrical use of renewable energy. By 2025, geothermal heating, biomass heating, biofuels and solar thermal heating should together be supplying at least 60 million tsce of energy, per the plan.

As costs continue to fall, the plan envisions future renewables growth to be driven by markets rather than policy. The plan promises to break down market and administrative barriers to renewable power being traded in power markets by

  • encouraging renewables generators to sign multi-year PPAs (power purchasing agreements) with retailers and users
  • allowing interprovincial buyers to directly trade with generators rather than via grid agents
  • improving spot markets and ancillary service compensation