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Wind and Solar Forum Sees Great Potential for More Capacities

On August 18, 2022, with the support of Energy Foundation China (EF China), the Tsinghua Institute for Carbon Neutrality (ICON) hosted its third Carbon Neutrality Technology Forum on the theme of wind and solar, with a focus on the key development issues and pathways toward a carbon neutral future. Altogether 14 experts, including He Kebin, ICON Dean; Li Junfeng, first Director and Chair of Academic Committee for the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC) and Venture Partner of Sequoia China; and Zou Ji, CEO and President of EF China, attended the forum, which was watched by over 30,000 people online via a livestreaming service.

More than 20 scientists attend the third Carbon Neutrality Technology Forum on the theme of solar and wind power technologies, hosted by the Tsinghua Institute for Carbon Neutrality on August 18, 2022, with support from EF China. Photo by the Institute of Carbon Neutrality, Tsinghua University

Zou Ji said that the development of renewable energy in China needs to be considered from three aspects. First, developing renewables is a most essential pathway to ensure the achievement of the carbon neutrality goal and the mitigation of the global climate risks; Second, with large volume of traditional energy infrastructure like thermal power plants, China has to conduct life-cycle cost-benefit analyses when considering coal phase-out pathways; Third, while wind and solar power technologies have witnessed a rapid growth over the past decade with sharply reduced costs, China should expedite the innovation in new technologies including a stable grid and secure energy storage, which are key elements of a clean, low carbon, safe, and efficient energy system, according to him.

He Kebin, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, emphasized that achieving carbon neutrality requires to upgrade China’s energy structure, to highlight the role of green and low carbon energy in future development, and to accelerate the utilization of non-fossil fuels. Globally, wind and solar resources are abundant in amount and evenly distributed across space, which provides sufficient renewable energy for achieving carbon neutrality goals, he said.

Li Junfeng said that wind and solar combined have the potential to generate more than 10 trillion kWh of electricity in China per year, if their capacity increases to 8 to 10 times the current level. However, China needs to invest in the R&D of technologies addressing the fluctuation and intermittency of solar and wind power, including those that can improve the adaptability of the power grid. China also needs to perfect the power dispatching mechanism, as well as compatible economic and security mechanisms, to ensure a stable electricity supply with high renewable penetration, according to him.

Liu Hanyuan, Chair of Tongwei Group, a top polysilicon manufacturer in China, said that solar power generation is economically viable, low carbon, and renewable. While helping transform China’s energy structure, the photovoltaic industry can also drive progress in other industries such as energy storage and electric vehicles, and thus contribute to economic growth that is compatible with China’s carbon goals, he said.

Zhang Chuanwei, Chair of Mingyang Group, a large wind turbine manufacturer in China, said that China has over the past decade become a global leader in wind power innovation toward offshore wind power, long-distance offshore generation, and big wind turbines. More than 85 percent of the newly added electricity generation between 2022 and 2030 in provinces that host China’s five major offshore wind bases will come from these farms. They will also accelerate hydrogen production from seawater and marine ranches, and help China become an major exporter of offshore equipment, technology, and solutions, according to him.

After their speeches, experts at the forum discussed topics including renewable energy meteorology, technological innovation with China’s dual carbon goals, and the research frontiers of solar thermal power. They also gave insights into the project outline for the “Comprehensive Report on Renewable Energy of Wind and Solar in China.” The research project has been supported by EF China.

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