In 2022, People’s Republic of China’s electricity consumption is dominated by fossil fuels, accounting for almost 65% of the total. The vast majority (about 61%) is generated from coal, with gas contributing just over 3%. Low-carbon energy types make up approximately 36% of the total, clearly demonstrating China’s significant effort towards cleaner energy. Hydropower is the leading low-carbon source, providing close to 15%. Wind and solar energy each contribute approximately 5%, with nuclear matching solar’s share. Biofuels play a smaller role, making up just under 2%. Crucially, despite being a huge consumer of electricity, China exports more electricity than it imports, making it a net exporter.
To further increase its low-carbon electricity generation, China could take a leaf out of other countries’ books. For instance, France generates 61% of its electricity from nuclear energy. Ukraine and Slovakia are close behind, with nuclear accounting for 58% and 57%, respectively. Even wind power has proven to be a significant source in some territories, such as Denmark where it's responsible for 52% of electricity generation. China could essentially aim for a balanced combination of nuclear, wind, and solar in its energy mix to ensure energy security, while also reducing its carbon footprint.
When looking at the historical development of low-carbon electricity in China, we see strong growth for years. The 2000s started with a focus on hydropower, with significant yearly increases in generation. The momentum in hydropower peaked in 2012 with an addition of 173.2 TWh, while wind made stride in 2016 with an increase of 51.3 TWh. Since then, wind has been on an upward trend, with a phenomenal growth of 189.1 TWh in 2021. Around the same time, solar has seen a steady yet notable rise, especially in recently with an increase of 90.8 TWh in 2022. Nuclear has also emerged as a key player in 2019 with an addition of 53.7 TWh and has the potential to contribute more to China’s low-carbon electricity generation in the years to come.