In order for China to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2060, massive investments in solar, wind, and hydrogen technologies will be necessary. The amount is estimated to be in the range of $340 billion per year for the next 10 years and $600 billion per year for the following 30 years. This will create massive demands for technologies associated with green power generation, transportation, construction, and manufacturing. For some background and highlights, read on.
At the 75th U.N. conference last September, China stated that it will adopt stronger policies and measures to begin to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 (“carbon peak”) and strive to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2060. Later, in December, at the annual Central Economic Work Conference, the government released a statement that they would offer “support” to industries that had favorable conditions to reach the peak emissions date ahead of the 2030 target.
China sees two paths to reducing carbon emissions and reaching a carbon neutral state. The first, naturally, is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and the second is to promote technological progress in clean energy, such as photovoltaics, wind, and hydrogen. The conversion of fossil energy to clean energy will bring new development opportunities and alter the country’s economic structure.
China sees "green manufacturing" as a key factor in achieving carbon neutrality. According to data from the China Carbon Accounting Database, the carbon emissions from energy-intensive manufacturing industries such as steel, cement, petrochemicals, and non-ferrous metals accounted for 36% of the national carbon emissions in 2017.
For these industries, technological innovation is the key, which generally takes a long time and requires a large amount of capital investment. Among these technologies, photovoltaic is the clean energy field with the largest investment scale.
China believes photovoltaics and energy storage will be the most important way to achieve carbon neutrality in the power sector. It is estimated that by 2060, the cumulative installed capacity of photovoltaics in China may reach 9,500 GW, which is 40 times the current capacity, and the annual demand for photovoltaics will reach 700 GW, which is about 20 times the current demand.
Hydrogen power will also see tremendous growth. China International Capital Corp. (CICC) estimates that by 2060, 8% of China's energy consumption structure will be supported by green hydrogen. In the next 40 years, the cumulative investment in the field of green hydrogen could reach $462 billion.
CICC also estimated that by 2060, clean power, including photovoltaics, wind power, hydropower, and nuclear power, will account for 70% of China's energy consumption structure, an increase of 54% from 2020.
The carbon peak and carbon-neutrality strategies in China will bring unprecedented green investment demands and huge opportunities in the coming decades. To achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2060, it is estimated that $21 trillion of green investment will be needed. The annualized investment demand for the first 10 years is $338 billion per year, and $600 billion per year for the following 30 years. In terms of different industries, the demand for green investment in electricity generation, transportation, and construction will be the largest.
Green investment mainly includes the investment required for existing carbon-free technologies, carbon reduction upgrades of old equipment, and innovative carbon reduction technologies corresponding to the expansion of production capacity.