China Gives Priority to Green Dispatch
Catherine Mitchell, IGov Team, 29th September 2015
Much has been talked about China possibly financing a portion of a GB nuclear power plant in the last few weeks. However, whilst China may be building some nuclear power plants – the support for them is small compared to the support given to renewables. Moreover, as was discussed in a recent blog, for technical reasons a dispatch choice has to be made. This choice can be set up to be made in all sorts of ways. These can be complementary to decentralised power or more complementary to the conventional, centralised power system. China has just made that choice. Dispatch is to prioritise renewables. This is a sure sign of where China thinks the energy system is going.
China announced earlier in the year that the next 5 year plan would be focused on restructuring its energy system in favour of renewables and energy efficiency. This announcement takes this a step forward, and fits within a wider governance push – although all the details are still to be sorted out. China’s power system is still overwhelmingly coal based – but it is clear that the underlying energy policy has now altered.
The 2007-2012 5 year plan saw China come in behind solar energy and proved to be the kick starter of the rapid solar price falls. This latest announcement may be just as important. The British public is going to pay France and China to put up a nuclear plant in GB, which is absolutely going against the global technology trend. Last week’s European SET Plan conference to discuss European R&D policy for energy – which had all the key European figures in attendance – is also centring European policy around renewables and energy efficiency and ‘ICTisation’. It is hard to understand what market the Chancellor is chasing for the benefit of GB.
The money going to Hinkley (or other plants) could be used more usefully for so much else. As said before, GB deserves a governance system where open and up to date debate is seen as a good and essential part of decision-making.