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China starts building a 16 GW solar, wind and coal energy complex

China has started building a 1 GW solar power project in the Kubuqi Desert near Ordos, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region (northern China), that will constitute the pilot phase of a larger 16 GW solar, wind and coal energy complex. The project will ultimately include 8 GW of solar and 4 GW of wind capacity, as well as 4 GW of upgraded coal power to adjust for peak demand.

The CNY80bn (US$11.6bn) project is developed by the China Three Gorges Corporation and the Inner Mongolia Energy Group. Once completed, the complex will be able to transfer about 40 TWh/year of electricity to Beijing, Tianjin and the Hebei province. Over half of the produced power will be clean energy, equivalent to a reduction of standard coal usage by about 6 Mt as well as a reduction of emissions by around 16 MtCO2.

In 2021, China’s installed capacity for renewables surpassed 1,000 GW (with 391 GW for hydro, 328 GW for wind and 307 GW for solar) and power production from renewables exceeded 2,300 TWh. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) expects 450 GW of solar and wind capacity to be built in China’s desert regions and the country to reach 1,200 GW of solar capacity by 2030. The country also pledged to cap its carbon emission to a peak by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060. Nonetheless, China is still very reliant on coal, as it accounted in 2021 for 52% of China's installed capacity with 1,254 GW and 63% of its power generation with around 5,400 TWh.

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