Environment China is a bilingual podcast from the Beijing Energy Network. The show features conversations with advocates, entrepreneurs, and experts working in the environmental field in China.
Barriers to renewables in the Belt and Road Initiative - with Bai Yunwen and Ma Tianjie
In today's podcast, we’re talking about why it’s been so difficult to get financing for renewable energy in the Belt and Road, also known as the Belt-Road-Initiative or BRI. (Note the podcast was recorded prior to the announcement that China would pursue carbon neutrality by 2060.)
Our first guest is Ma Tianjie, Tianjie is managing editor of China Dialogue and several times past guest of Environment China. Before joining China Dialogue, he was Greenpeace's Program Director for Mainland China. He holds a master’s degree in environmental policy from American University, Washington D.C.
Our second guest is Bai Yunwen. Yunwen is the director of Greenovation Hub. Founded in 2012, Greenovation Hub is, an independent Chinese NGO advancing sound climate and environment governance. Over the years, Yunwen has worked on climate diplomacy, energy policy, and international financial flows. Recently, she and her colleagues have worked with financial regulators to strengthen environmental and social practices on belt-and-road investments.
The Belt-and-Road Initiative, aka One Belt One Road, was launched in 2013, and though membership is unofficial it is said to include between 70 countries (Wikipedia) to over 130 countries (according to the BRI website). It’s stated goal is to “promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among the countries … and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.”
An analysis by MERICS showed that of US$ 75 billion in completed investments, two-thirds was energy related, most of which was in coal, oil, and gas projects.
The vast majority of coal plants outside of China are funded by investment from China. https://qz.com/1760615/china-quits-coal-at-home-but-promotes-the-fossil-fuel-in-developing-countries/
According to a Greenpeace analysis in 2019, China’s BRI investments have supported 67 GW of coal plants and just 12 GW of wind and solar plants. https://www.power-technology.com/news/china-belt-and-road-wind-solar/
The genesis of today’s podcast is a report by Greenovation Hub, which discussed some of the reasons why it is difficult for Chinese wind and solar companies to invest and do business abroad. https://chinadialogue.net/en/energy/11952-chinese-firms-struggle-to-fund-renewables-projects-overseas/
Emergency Podcast! Expert Panel Dissects China's 2060 Carbon Neutral Shocker
We don't do this often, but in today's podcast we address some breaking news: President Xi Jinping's announcement that China will peak carbon emissions before 2030 and set a new goal of net-neutral carbon emissions by 2060. The speech, delivered remotely to the United Nations during Climate Week, caught energy and climate watchers by surprise.
In this mini-podcast, recorded less than 24 hours after the announcement, host Anders Hove gathered three top energy and climate experts (and long-time Beijing Energy Network speakers) for a short and rapid-fire panel discussion:
Li Shuo is senior global policy analyst at Greenpeace East Asia.
Lauri Myllyvirta is lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Kaare Sandholt is chief expert at the China National Renewable Energy Centre, at the NDRC Energy Research Institute.
To keep the show notes brief, here are the items mentioned or referenced by the guests:
The China National Renewable Energy Centre's China Renewable Energy Outlook (full version, may not work in certain browsers: http://boostre.cnrec.org.cn/index.php/2020/03/30/china-renewable-energy-outlook-2019-2/?lang=en; executive summary: https://www.dena.de/fileadmin/dena/Publikationen/PDFs/2019/CREO2019_-_Executive_Summary_2019.pdf) CREO's 2050 Below 2 Degree scenario anticipates non-fossil energy reaching 65% of primary energy (26% wind, 18% solar, 8% nuclear, 6% hydro, 8% other RE). Under this scenario, China would ramp up from installing around 40 GW of solar and 35 GW wind in recent years to 60 GW of solar and 55 GW wind in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), eventually peaking annual installations at 150 GW each wind and solar in 2031-2035), and finally reaching around 2,000 GW of wind and solar in the late 2030s. (China currently has over 200 GW each of wind and solar installed.)
See also various publications using the China-SWITCH model, such as Enabling a Rapid and Just Transition Away from Coal," One Earth, 2020 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442150/ and "Rapid cost decrease of renewables and storage accelerates the decarbonization of China’s power system," Nature, 2020, at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16184-x.
Lauri mentions his recent article on China's covid recovery investments and how they break down by high-carbon versus low-carbon: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-chinas-covid-stimulus-plans-for-fossil-fuels-three-times-larger-than-low-carbon
Kaare mentions Document #9 on Deepening Reform of the Power Sector. You can read more about that 2015 policy here: https://www.raponline.org/blog/a-new-framework-for-chinas-power-sector/
This episode was produced by Anders Hove and edited by Veronica Spurna.
Clean energy and China’s long road to power market reform
Renewable energy is the key to reducing China's carbon emissions, and for many years experts have seen electricity markets as essential to the promotion of clean energy.
In this episode, we check in with a leading U.S. expert on China's power sector, Michael Davidson, to discuss two recent papers he has published on the topic of power markets and renewable energy in China.
Michael Davidson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California San Diego. His research and teaching center on the engineering implications and institutional conflicts inherent in deploying low-carbon energy at scale, with a particular focus on China, India, and the U.S. He holds a PhD in engineering systems from MIT and was previously a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
For further reading:
Hongye Guo Michael R. Davidson, Qixin Chen. Da Zhang, Nan Jiang, Qing Xia, Chongqing Kang, Xiliang Zhang, Power market reform in China: Motivations, progress, and recommendations, Energy Policy, October 2020, at https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0301421520304444.
Pre-publication version: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jya_iJmW-YqKZqqNg9552LNc-3EYGNY7/view
Davidson, M. R. and Ignacio Pérez-Arriaga, Avoiding Pitfalls in China’s Electricity Sector Reforms, The Energy Journal, 2020, at http://www.iaee.org/en/publications/ejarticle.aspx?id=3504.
Pre-publication version: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5cx330qg
Some useful definitions:
Electricity spot market: For most commodities, a spot market refers to buying and selling of a commodity for immediate delivery. For electricity, the spot market usually consists of two markets with different lead times: the day-ahead and intraday markets. Market players on the day-ahead market trade in electricity for the following day. For intraday markets, the hour-ahead market is most common.
Dispatch: Since electricity cannot be stored in power lines, the entity operating the power grid must continuously adjust the output of its power plants (or energy storage units) to meet fluctuations in electricity demand. This process is called the dispatch of power plants.
Economic dispatch: Economic dispatch is the short-term determination of the optimal output of a number of electricity generation facilities, to meet the system load, at the lowest possible cost, subject to transmission and operational constraints. The main idea is that, in order to satisfy the load at a minimum total cost, the set of generators with the lowest marginal costs must be used first, with the marginal cost of the final generator needed to meet load setting the system marginal cost.
Curtailment: Curtailment is the percentage reduction (usually by the grid operator) of output of a renewable power plant below what it could have otherwise produced. It is calculated by subtracting the electricity that was actually produced from the amount of electricity the plant could have produced given available wind or solar resources.
Capacity factor: Also known as the capacity utilization factor, this is the ratio of the actual output from a power plant over the year (kWh) to the maximum possible output from it for a year (kWh) under ideal conditions. If a power plant has a maximum output (capacity) of 1,000,000 kW, and it operates at a capacity factor of 100% of the year, it would produce 1,000,000 kWh x 24 days x 365 hours = 8,760 GWh. In China, capacity factor is usually mentioned in terms of the number of operating hours per year, but the concept is the same (just divide operating hours by the number of hours in one year and the resulting percentage is the capacity factor). A higher capacity factor generally translates to a lower cost of electricity, since capital costs will be spread acros
What's driving Corporate ESG in China?
In today's podcast, we talk to two private sector experts working on the topic of corporate ESG - which refers to corporate policies and performance on the environment, sustainability, and governance. In the first part of the episode, we focus on the policies that have driven companies in China towards greater emphasis of ESG, and which companies are working most seriously on the topic of ESG. We discuss the process of certifying the first project in China under a new international ESG standard for infrastructure. And we close by examining what's next for ESG in China.
Our first guest is Dang Anqi. Anqi is an ESG and sustainable investment analyst at Allianz France. She is leading the climate-related financial disclosure and the Sciences Based Targets Initiative at Allianz Investment Management. Her report on sustainable investment won the International Climate Reporting Awards in 2019. (Link: https://www.allianz.fr/content/dam/onemarketing/azfr/common/marque/pdf/BROCH_AZ_AIM_REPORT-2020-EXE_1507.pdf.)
Our second guest is Tracy Li, senior manager at SGS Certification and Business Enhancement. SGS is a multinational company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland which provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services. SGS China was established in 1991 with its head office in Beijing, and now has 78 branches in China, and over 15,000 employees.
This episode could almost serve as a reference document to the topic of ESG in China, and at points there are a lot of laws and acronyms mentioned in the episode. Here are a few of the key resources you may want to have in front of you to keep up.
2019 Climate Bonds Initiative report on China's green bond market: https://www.climatebonds.net/resources/reports/china-green-bond-market-2019-research-report
Major regulator milestones mentioned:
In 2016, the People's Bank of China and other ministries issued the Guidelines on Establishing a Green Financial System: https://greenfinanceplatform.org/financial-measures-database/chinas-guidelines-establishing-green-financial-system
In 2018, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) issued a directive concerning ESG disclosure: https://www.globalelr.com/2018/02/china-mandates-esg-disclosures-for-listed-companies-and-bond-issuers/
In 2018, the Asset Management Association of China issued the Green Investment Guidelines: https://greenfinanceplatform.org/financial-measures-database/chinas-green-investment-guidelines
International ESG standards mentioned:
Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI): https://aluminium-stewardship.org/
Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS): https://a4ws.org/
The Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure (SuRe) standard: https://www.sure-standard.org/
GIB stands for Global Infrastructure Basel (https://gib-foundation.org/), which manages the SuRe standard.
(Disclosure: In his day-job with GIZ, Anders Hove has worked with SGS China in completing the first SuRe project certification, under the Sustainable Infrastructure Alliance.)
What's Up with Carbon Trading in China - with Yan Qin and Stian Reklev
You have probably heard China's carbon market described as the largest carbon market in the world. That's only proper, since China is the largest carbon emitting country and the carbon market will cover the coal power sector, which accounts for around half of the country's emissions.
2020 was originally billed as a major year for climate policy, both globally and in China. Where does China's carbon market policy stand and how is it likely to evolve during the 14th Five-Year Plan period? What announcements should we expect this year?
Our first guest is Stian Reklev, co-founder and reporter with Carbon Pulse, which provides news and intelligence on global carbon markets. He is based in Beijing, where he has covered emissions trading markets and climate policy across the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, first for Point Carbon and then for Reuters, before setting up Carbon Pulse in 2015.
Our second guest is Yan Qin of Refinitiv, who is based in Oslo. Yan Qin is a power and carbon analyst with extensive experience in energy market analysis and quantitative modelling. Her work focus on the short-term outlook for power and carbon trading, supply-demand forecasting, and energy policy insights, mainly for clients at utilities and energy companies. She was power market consultant before joining the Point Carbon team in 2011. Yan holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Oslo.
For further reading:
IEA report on China's carbon ETS: https://www.iea.org/reports/chinas-emissions-trading-scheme
Carbon Pulse: https://carbon-pulse.com/category/china-national-ets/
Refinitiv's annual global carbon market report and survey: https://www.refinitiv.com/en/resources/special-report/global-carbon-market-report#form
What to expect for renewable energy in the 14th Five-Year Plan: A Ben Webinar
It's been a busy year for energy policy in China, and we're only in the beginning of July. This summer and fall are crucial periods in the design of the 14th Five-Year Plan, and many listeners are already aware that there are big issues at stake for climate and the environment. In today's podcast, we're releasing the audio of a Beijing Energy Network webinar held in mid-June. Recent Environment China podcast host Anders Hove and China Dialogue's Wu Yixiu delivered a joint presentation covering a lot of important details of this process. Topics touched on include:
Recent renewable energy trends in China. Why China is seeing a wave of new coal plant approvals. Whether wind and solar are likely to grow in 2020, and how much. Whether China will enhance its climate ambition or adopt a carbon cap. What the new energy law and clean energy consumption mechanism drafts are all about. Some reading:
The 14th Five-Year Plan: What Ideas are on the Table?
Current Direction for Renewable Energy in China:
Customer ReviewsSee All
Concise and informative
The podcasts are short, sweet, and to the point.
These podcasts are a great way to keep track of what is going on in China's environmental sector. I'm looking forward to future podcasts in Mandarin!
Glad to have found an easy way to learn about these issues
Learning about things happening on the ground in China can be tough, especially for some of the less mainstream topics like citizen science or sludge-to-power. Instead of just getting a hint of insight from an article, these episodes provide a comprehensive overview of each topic that is touched on. Happy to have a better overall understanding of China's environmental field than ever before- thanks team!
Great to have a podcast covering environmental topics in China.