The future of China's energy supply

If you're interested in Australia's electricity sector, it can be enlightening to look overseas and see the various trends going on in the wider industry. These can affect policies, electricity prices and public attitudes, even if happening far away, as they have a flow-on effect.

China is making great strides when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable technology, with experts predicting that by 2030 China's power capacity will reach double its current levels or more.

Furthermore, renewable technologies will account for over half of the new power plants. This will signal a significant challenge to coal's previous domination of the industry. According to a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investment in these new, cleaner projects will total a staggering $1.4 trillion.

This will happen as China - currently both the world's largest energy generator and carbon emitter - adds 88 GW of new power plants every year from now until 2030.

It's no surprise that China, with its large land mass and significant population, uses a lot of power and emits a lot of carbon. What is surprising is that it may be able to clean up its act a lot quicker than originally thought. The nation's total emissions from the power sector could even start to reduce as early as 2027.

"China has started to change course towards a cleaner future. But despite significant progress in renewable energy deployment, coal looks set to remain dominant to 2030. More support for renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency will be needed if China wants to reduce its reliance on coal more quickly," said Jun Ying, country manager and head of research for China at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

It's clear the nation's energy future is still up for debate and there is still great uncertainty surrounding the issue. However, many are hoping that China will start to lead the way in the clean energy revolution.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said that China's energy consumption and generation mix is significant, and that it will have implications for the rest of the world. It will impact on coal and gas prices as well as upon the market size for renewable energy tech. And, of course, it will have an effect on the planet's environmental health. That means even though China may seem like a world away, Australians can benefit from keeping a close eye on the energy situation overseas.

Posted by Charlie Moore