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Growth of Green Energy Slowing in China

Fears of a US trade war and a slowing economy have translated into fewer subsidies for solar and wind energy in China.
October 4, 2019, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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China is the world’s largest market for renewable energy, but the growth of that energy in the country is slowing. The Chinese government has reduced subsidies for solar and wind, and the energy resources the country does have can’t always be easily transmitted. "Although major solar and wind power installations in China’s more far-flung provinces can produce large amounts of renewable energy, a lack of high-voltage transmission infrastructure means that a sizeable percentage of that green energy still goes unused," Michael Standaert reports for Yale Environment 360. These provinces may have ideal conditions for generating power, but they are isolated from the industrial and population centers that consume the power.

The renewable energy industry has a double challenge in dealing with new policies. "[W]hile curtailing subsidies for wind and solar power, the central government has sharply increased financial support for what it calls “new energy” extraction, which includes fracking of shale gas and separating methane from coal," Standaert writes This has big implications for the world’s biggest carbon emitter. "After plateauing from 2014 to 2016, China’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen in the last several years, with an estimated 4 percent increase in the first half of 2019," Standaert reports.

Kevin Tu, former China program manager at the International Energy Agency, believe this change in policy is likely to continue, driven by fears of slowing economic growth, especially in the context of a trade war with the United States.

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Published on Thursday, September 26, 2019 in Yale Environment 360
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