One shorter-term clean-energy target—increasing natural gas to 10% of the power mix by 2020, from about 5% last year—might be achievable. New pipeline supplies from Central Asia, Myanmar and possibly Russia, higher output from China’s own offshore reserves, exploitation of its huge onshore deposits—trapped in shale—and an increase in long-haul ship-borne liquefied-natural-gas deliveries could add up to enough gas.
By the end of 2013, China’s wind-power capacity exceeded 75 million kilowatts, No. 1 in the world. Its solar-power capacity passed 15 million kilowatts and was growing faster than any other country’s, according to Liu Zhenya, chairman of Chinese utility State Grid Corp. Still, China is struggling to meet its 2015 target of getting 11.4% of its electricity from such nonfossil fuels, officials said in December, despite heavy government subsidies.
China aims to raise its nuclear capacity to 200 gigawatts by 2030, from only 14.6 gigawatts last year. But it probably won’t reach that goal, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie forecast in a report Monday—which will offer opportunities for mining companies to supply huge amounts of additional coal to make up the power shortfall.
Technology constraints, inadequate infrastructure for uranium-fuel fabrication and disposal, public opposition to inland nuclear plants, and shortages of qualified personnel all mean a more realistic nuclear capacity in 2030 will be 175 gigawatts.