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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Reflection on opportunities for high penetration of renewable energy in China

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Increasing penetration of renewable energy (RE) is expected to be an essential component for China to achieve goals in mitigating global climate change and domestic air pollution. Although China has experienced rapid growth of RE over the past two decades, problems restricting further development of RE occur, among which high curtailment rate of wind and solar power raises great attention. This paper reflects on the challenges and opportunities of high penetration of RE from both technical and market perspectives in China based on literature review. In particular, it emphasizes technical options to address the inherent variability of RE from three layers, namely using interconnected geographically dispersed sources to reduce random variance, increasing storage capacity to deal with minute‐to‐day imbalance, and applying backup capacity for seasonally mismatch. From the market perspective, the paper analyzes the needs of shifting from central planning to market‐based dispatch, introducing markets for ancillary services, and having a larger and more precise market. Meanwhile, our paper further points out that opportunities for high RE integration may rely on deep electrification of transportation and building sectors, which are also the foci for future air pollution control in China. It is feasible for China to achieve a high if not 100% RE system, but first these technical and market challenges have to be addressed in the process of adjusting its energy structure. This article is categorized under: Energy Systems Analysis > Climate and Environment Energy and Climate > Climate and Environment
Capacity and electricity generation of wind (a) and solar (b) power, and their curtailment rates (c) from 2013 to 2017 in China(Data source: International Renewable Energy Agency and Chinese National Energy Administration)
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Local PM2.5 source apportionment of Beijing in 2017(a), Tianjin in 2017(b), and Shijiazhuang in 2014 (c)(Data source: Ministry of Ecology and Environment, PRC)
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