While China has encouraged renewable energy in various forms since the 1980’s, its renewable energy policy gained an overarching framework with the passage of the Renewable Energy Law (effective January 1, 2006)(now added to “Laws & Regulations,” right sidebar). This law is designed to “promote the development and utilization of renewable energy, improve the energy structure, diversify energy supplies, safeguard energy security, protect the environment, and realize the sustainable development of the economy and society” (Article 1).
Even among China’s policy-heavy, detail-light laws, the Renewable Energy Law stands out for its brevity. The substance of the legal framework has been fleshed out in contemporaneous and follow-on regulations. Several governmental commissions and ministries have been involved in drafting the detailed regulations for the Law’s implementation; ten or so regulations have been issued with a couple of additional ones still contemplated. We will cover the most important of these in subsequent posts.
The Renewable Energy Law has divided responsibility for encouraging renewable energy use among various national and local governmental bodies. As a general proposition the “energy authorities of the State Council” have delegated to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) the authority to manage the development and utilization of renewable energy at the national level, including the setting of China-wide middle and long-term targets for the use of renewable energy (subject to approval by the State Council).
The NDRC’s Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy was developed in 2007. The Plan has both a national renewable energy development target–fifteen percent of its primary energy consumption is to come from renewable energy sources by 2020–and targets for key individual renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar PV. Do not jump to the conclusion that your faithful correspondent has made an error (this would never be a wise assumption) if you see what appears to be a different percentage reported elsewhere for the 2020 goal. Take a hard look at what the number is a percentage of: it may be total electric power generation, or it may be power generation exclusive of all hydro, or just large hydro. In other words, make sure you understand what the denominator is. For the number I have provided it is all “primary energy sources.”
The national targets in the NDRC’s plan include:
|Hydro||115 GW||190 GW||300 GW|
|Wind||1.3 GW||5 GW||30 GW|
|Solar PV||.07 GW||.30 GW||1.8 GW|
|Solar hot water||80 million m2||150 million m2||300 million m2|
|Biomass power (from agricultural & forestry waste)||2 GW||5.5 GW||30 GW|
|Ethanol||.8 million tons||2 million tons||10 million tons|
|Biodiesel||.05 million tons||.20 million tons||2 million tons|
The NDRC (again subject to approval by the State Council) shall, on the basis of the approved national goals, “as well as the economic development and actual situation of renewable energy resources of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, cooperate with people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in establishing a middle and long-term target.” (Article 7). Many of these provincial plans have been completed, and others are in the process of finalization.
Crucial pieces missing from the Renewable Energy Law are (1) a specific assignment of responsibility to a political entity or the grid companies for achieving the renewable energy goals, and (2) the establishment of target achievement as a factor upon which local political official’s job performance will be based. These omissions have created some resistance on the ground to grid access for certain renewable energy projects. These problems should be solved over time as the regulatory system is completed and fully implemented.