By the end of 2023, China’s share in the global structure of RES investments will make up 41% and the share of OECD countries will be 42%. The IEA’s forecasts correlate with the data of Global Energy Monitor, according to which China’s share in the global capacity structure of wind generators undergoing construction has reached 31%; at the same time, the country’s share in the capacity of solar and hydroelectric power plants has amounted to as much as 52% and 60% respectively (the percentage difference is caused by the fact that the construction cycle of power plants goes beyond the calendar year).
An important factor in China’s RES development is the existence of its own raw material base. The country is one of the world’s top three producers of silicon, silver and copper, i.e., materials used to manufacture solar panels. Thanks to this, the specific costs for the construction of solar panels are lower in China than in most OECD countries: whereas in 2021 the costs totaled $1,090 per 1 kilowatt (kW) of electricity in the USA and $810 per kW in the European Union, they were just $630 per kW in China.
The rapid development of RES is also facilitated by the use of technologies for power transmission via ultra-high voltage (UHV) lines, which make it possible to transport electricity from regions favourable for the operation of RES-based facilities to China’s energy-deficient provinces. Among them is Jiangsu, an eastern province that started to receive electricity from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2018 via a 1,100 kilovolt (kV) UHV line with a length of 3,324 km, and began to import electricity from Sichuan Province in 2022 via 800 kV power lines stretching over 2,080 km.
China is also implementing mega-projects in the field of renewable energy. These include the Baihetan HPP, which, with all of its hydroelectric units up and running, has now become the world’s second-biggest HPP in terms of overall installed capacity (16 gigawatts against 22.5 gigawatts demonstrated by the Three Gorges Dam, the top-performing HPP, which is also located in China); the solar power plant (SPP) with a capacity of 3 gigawatts under construction in the Tengger desert, which ranks second in terms of capacity among the solar energy projects ongoing worldwide; and the world’s largest offshore wind turbine with a capacity of 16 megawatts, which came online in late 2022 in eastern China’s Fujian Province.