When it comes to renewables, how does China stack up?
China has long been known for its consumption of coal — with photos of smoggy cities making headlines numerous times in recent memory. However, it appears the world’s top fossil fuel emitter is getting ready to clean up its act as it formally joined the Paris climate agreement along with the USA yesterday.
In spite of its reputation for air pollution, and late ratification of the COP21 agreement, China is ostensibly on its way to becoming a global leader in renewable energy. In 2015, the country’s solar energy capacity increased by 74 percent and its wind energy capacity was upped 34 percent. It’s worth noting that coal consumption also dropped by 3.7 percent in the same year.
Earlier this year, Nick Mabey, the CEO of climate change think tank E3G, noted: ““Twenty years ago Europeans were still teaching China how to draft environmental law.” And while that may be the case, China is now putting showing its green-energy forebears how it’s done. Last year, sales of electric vehicles in Asia’s largest country were 50 percent higher than in the EU, and in 2014 China spent more on renewable research and development than Europe did.
It has been estimated that by the end of the decade, over 15 percent of China’s energy capacity will come from sources that don’t emit greenhouse gases. Admittedly, that’s no measly number — but the reality is coal will still remain in use for decades.
China may be “cleaning up” its coal-fired capacity in order to make power plants more efficient, though this isn’t sounding the death knells for greenhouse gases like some environmentalists have hoped for. Ultimately, the country has limited oil and gas reserves, and is thus reliant on coal to meet its energy needs. Emissions are predicted to peak in 2030, but until then, coal is likely to remain king.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.