China’s renewable energy expansion has reached unprecedented levels, with the country deploying record-breaking amounts of wind and solar capacity. However, this rapid growth has led to challenges in managing the grid capacity limits, resulting in the need to idle renewable generation when it exceeds local consumption.

To address this issue, new government regulations have been introduced to reduce the amount of renewable energy that goes to waste by enhancing long-distance transmission links and improving the coordination of generation plans across provinces. The total generating capacity in China has seen a significant increase since the end of 2018, with most of the capacity additions coming from wind farms and solar generators.

The increasing penetration of intermittent renewables like wind and solar is posing challenges to the management of the national transmission system, which was already grappling with regional imbalances in generation and load. To mitigate the fluctuations in renewable output, China aims to spread out generators over larger areas, requiring more transmission infrastructure and better scheduling.

China has a history of massive electricity transfers from surplus areas in the west and north to high-demand regions on the east and south coasts. The State Grid Corporation has developed an extensive network of ultra-high voltage transmission lines to facilitate these transfers, making China a global leader in long-distance electricity transmission.

The northern and western regions of China, which are rich in energy resources like coal, gas, and renewables, have become crucial in meeting the country’s energy needs. These areas are also prime locations for wind and solar farms. However, the addition of significant wind and solar generation in these regions has strained the existing transmission system.

In response to the challenges of integrating renewables, China launched the “Clean Energy Absorption Action Plan” to reduce the curtailment of renewable resources. While the utilization rates for wind and solar power have improved, there has been a recent decline due to the rapid deployment of renewable capacity.

To address this issue, there is renewed emphasis on integrating renewables at the local level and expanding transmission capacity to facilitate power transfers across provinces. The government is also focusing on better coordination between provinces to create a more cohesive national energy system.

Despite China’s remarkable achievements in renewable energy integration, there is still a need to enhance coordination between different types of generators and across wider geographical areas. The country’s long-distance transmission system serves as a model for other nations looking to connect more renewables to their grids.

As China continues to push for higher levels of renewable energy penetration, closer cooperation between provinces and utilities will be essential to build a more integrated and efficient national energy system. By addressing the challenges posed by grid capacity limits, China can further advance its transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.