Recent years have seen the Chinese government attempting to move away from coal towards more environmentally friendly, mobile sources of energy. The government demonstrated this commitment last week by running the entire Qinghai province on renewable energy only.
Qinghai province is large but quite sparsely populated, making it an excellent testing ground for renewable resources. From June 17th to June 23rd, the province was powered by a combination of solar, wind and Hydro plants which produced around 1.1 billion kWh of electricity for the province, which is equivalent to burning 535,000 tons of coal. Around 72% of that energy came from Hydro plants, while the remnant of the energy was generated by wind and solar plants.
Qinghai is China’s fourth largest province, yet it is only the 30th most populated, around the size of Tibet. Geographically the province is larger than France, but population wise, it’s 12 times smaller with around 5.8 million people living there. The province is known for its abundance of natural resources, including high-altitude plains perfect for wind and solar plants.
A combination of hydro, wind and solar power were already providing more than 82% of the province’s power needs, some 23.4 million kilowatts. However, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan will see Qinghai become a clean energy bastion for the rest of China to draw from, as plans will expand the province’s wind and solar capacity up to 35 million kW by 2020. Qinghai will then help supply central and eastern China with around 110 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year, all sourced from renewable resources.
China seems to be taking its goals under the Paris Climate Accord seriously, committing to boosting renewable energy sources so that they make up 20% of its energy consumption by 2030. China will be spending $360 billion on renewable energy projects by the end of the decade.