China's power crisis reveals tensions ahead of key UN climate summit

Renewable energy in Inner China sometimes generates more electricity than neighboring consumers can use, but at other times it produces t...


Renewable energy in Inner China sometimes generates more electricity than neighboring consumers can use, but at other times it produces too little. Just five years ago, three inland regions producing an abundance of solar and wind power – the sparsely populated Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Gansu – were lose up to two-fifths of that power.

To solve this problem, China has built ultra-high voltage transmission lines connecting the interior of the country to hubs located near the coast. But connectivity still has a way to go. “The new demand can be more than met by cleaner energy sources” if transmission networks are extended, Ms. Lewis said.

Beijing is also trying to use market forces to develop renewable energy. The Chinese government has ordered electric utilities to charge industrial and commercial customers up to five times more when electricity is scarce and generated primarily by coal, than when renewables are flowing into the grid.

Despite Beijing’s goals, provincial governments have other ideas.

“There is a showdown right now,” said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University who studies China’s climate policies. “The central government is trying to limit the production of coal, and local governments are doing the opposite. They want to restart factories or build new ones to revive their local economies after the pandemic. “

Song Hewan, a bicycle mechanic who works and lives near the new gas-fired power station being completed on the northern outskirts of Dongguan, said he certainly didn’t miss the coal-fired power station. “Clothes would get dirty if you hung them outside, white cars would get dirty after being parked here for a while,” he said.

After this experience, Mr. Song is not enthusiastic about power plants in general. But if no new power plant replaces the coal-fired plant that was demolished, he fears, then China’s four decades of rapid economic growth could come to an end. “Without electricity,” he said, “life would go back to the 1970s.”

Keith bradsher reported in Dongguan, China, and Lisa Friedman reported from Washington. Li you contributed research.

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Newsrust - US Top News: China's power crisis reveals tensions ahead of key UN climate summit
China's power crisis reveals tensions ahead of key UN climate summit
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