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China’s Power Crunch Exposes Tensions Ahead of Key U.N. Climate Summit

Kelly Sims Gallagher points out the tug of war in China over coal production, via an article in The New York Times.

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Renewable energy in inland China sometimes generates more electricity than nearby consumers can use, but then at other times produces too little. Just five years ago, three inland regions that create abundant solar and wind energy power — sparsely populated Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Gansu — were wasting up to two-fifths of that power.

To address this problem, China has built ultra-high-voltage transmission lines linking the country’s interior to hubs near the coast. But connectivity still has a ways to go. “New demand can more than be met by cleaner sources of energy” if transmission networks are expanded, Ms. Lewis said.

Beijing is also trying to use market forces to expand renewable energy. The Chinese government has ordered electric utilities to charge industrial and commercial customers up to five times as much when power is scarce, and generated mainly by coal, as when renewable energy is flooding into the grid.

Despite the aims of Beijing, provincial governments have other ideas.

'There’s a tug of war right now,' said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at the Fletcher School of Tufts University who studies China’s climate policies. 'The central government is trying to limit coal production, and the local governments are doing the opposite. They want to restart plants or build new ones to get their local economies moving again post-pandemic.'"

Read the full article here