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China’s hidebound power sector hinders energy transition

Smokestacks and solar farms, coal-fired power and wind power: In China’s power sector, too, the past and the future are wrestling with each other. The world is worried about a huge pipeline of planned coal-fired power plants in the country. And at the same time, China is building wind and solar power plants like no other country. In 2021, wind and solar farms accounted for more than half of the new power capacity connected to the grid – for the fifth year in a row. Photovoltaics, in particular, are booming, with China installing nearly 55 gigawatts, 14 percent more than in 2020, according to the National Energy Administration. Wind power, on the other hand, fell behind solar due to the expiration of subsidies for onshore wind farms. New wind capacity fell by a third compared to 2020, to just under 48 gigawatts. By comparison, just under 26 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity were installed in the EU in 2021, also a record.

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