China is set to speed up its transition to clean energy, with Beijing signalling a significant move to reform the power sector.
In a speech this week, China’s President Xi announced his government would move to accelerate the “construction and investment in new power systems” that are “clean and low-carbon.”
In a report posted to state-controlled media People’s Daily Online, China’s government approved ‘Guiding Opinions o Deeping the Reform of the power system and Accelerating the construction of a new type of electricity system’.
“In building a new electricity system, the proportion of traditional energy would decrease in a well-planned manner based on the safe and reliable substitution of new energy,” the report said.
China has stated that it is aiming to have a net zero economy by 2060.
However, the nation continues to build out new coal fire power, gas and oil capacity. The reporting suggested China would continue to invest in fossil fuels to ensure economic growth as its highest priority.
Nuclear Energy Investment
China already has an ambitious goal of building new carbon-free sources of energy.
In April 2023, Chinese central planners announced nuclear power capacity will grow some 652% to 400 gigawatts by 2060.
China’s State-owned nuclear power group CGN Chairman Changli suggested China would produce 18% of its electricity from nuclear by 2060.
15 new nuclear power stations are under construction or planned for construction over the next decade.
China is working to secure the supply of uranium, with recent discussions with Kazakhstan – a major supplier of uranium to Russia and China.
China’s President visited Kazakhstan earlier in 2023, signing major deals to secure supply from the former Soviet State. Kazakhstan accounts for 50% of the global uranium supply currently.
Reports indicate China is already working to stockpile uranium fuel ahead of its massive build-out, with a strategy to secure domestic supplies and sign long-term contracts with overseas suppliers. This could be great news for uranium investors in regions such as Australia, Namibia and Canada, where much of the world’s known uranium is located (ex Russia and Kazakhstan).
Coal currently accounts for the vast majority of China’s energy mix. Followed by hydropower, wind and nuclear (5% of power generation in China).
US-China Climate Finance
Meanwhile, US Climate Envoy for the Biden Administration, John Kerry will visit Beijing for days of discussions on climate change policy.
“During meetings with [People’s Republic of China] officials, Secretary Kerry aims to engage with the PRC on addressing the climate crisis, including with respect to increasing implementation and ambition and promoting a successful COP28,” the U.S. State Department said.
Janet Yellen, Biden’s Treasury Secretary, had been in Beijing earlier and suggested the US and China team up on global financing for green energy and green metals initiatives to meet ambitious climate goals.
Nuclear Fusion Energy Investment
Meanwhile, China is also investing significant time and energy in fusion technology.
Earlier this year, an experimental nuclear fusion energy project reported a major milestone in fusion technology.
The experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST), or the Chinese “artificial sun,” achieved a steady-state high confinement plasma operation for 403 seconds, a key step toward the development of a fusion reactor, local media reported at the time.