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Electricity in China - statistics & facts

The Chinese electricity industry has been in the focus of both domestic and international discussions ever since the reform and opening of the People’s Republic in the late 1970s. Seen as the engine room of industrial momentum, the government prioritized the expansion of the pre-existing generation system using cheap and available resources. This has resulted in much effort being placed into the buildup of coal power plants and made China the country with the largest installed coal capacity in the world. Nevertheless, coal power is not the only energy segment in which China takes the lead.

Industry structure and largest companies

Until the early 2000s, Chinese infrastructure struggled with imbalances in the electricity system, with wide parts of the country suffering from frequent local blackouts. To even out load peaks and valleys in the supply of electricity, the highly fragmented grid system had to be developed as well. As a result, the Chinese government privatized parts of the sector beginning in 2005. Whereas the transmission and distribution of electricity remained under state control, the power generation market was partly opened to private and foreign investors. The main reasons for this change in direction were the need to operate the system more cost-effectively and to attract investments in renewable resources. Some major grid operators now include the former monopoly State Grid Corporation, and China Southern Power Grid. Meanwhile, Huaneng Power International rose to become the leading Chinese power generating company based on revenues.

The reign of coal and growing clean energy deployment

Although shares have notably decreased in the past decade, coal remains China's main source of electricity production, accounting for over 60 percent of total power output. Greater awareness over environmental and health impacts concerning coal usage has buoyed renewable investments, with wind and solar sources regularly recording the greatest year-on-year power generation capacity growth. The Chinese government is aiming to cover most of future energy demand using clean resources and China’s Electricity Council expects clean power to account for 50 percent of total installed capacity for the first time by the end of 2022. Already, surging wind and solar deployments in addition to the scale of long established hydropower facilities have led to China becoming the country with the largest renewable energy capacity worldwide.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 32 most important statistics relating to "Electricity in China".


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