Since 2005, the Chinese government has intensified its efforts to privatize parts of the sector. 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 to be seen in the need to operate the system more cost-effectively and to attract clean technologies for power generation.
International criticism regarding China’s energy mix, with its heavy reliance on coal as main source for electricity generation, was joined by rising concerns of the populace over heavy CO2 and particle pollution measures. Over the decade up to 2013, renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass and solar power capacities have been developed at an incredible pace. Consumption of renewables in China ranged at almost 107 million TOE by the end of 2017. Also, with a newly installed wind capacity of about 20 GW in 2017, China’s wind park displayed the largest growth pattern worldwide.
Apart from renewable energy sources, China has put a focus on the development of nuclear power over the past years. The investment structure of the electricity sector in China suggests a shift of investments from thermal power towards nuclear and hydropower projects by the end of 2018. Overall investments in the sector had reached around 809 billion yuan in 2018, with around 537 billion being directed into grid development projects.