* Wasted wind hits 17 pct of total generation in 2016
* Lost earnings estimated at $4.95 bln in two years
* China to raise renewables from 6.3 pct to 9 pct of total
(Adds new renewable electricity target; executive quote)
By David Stanway
SHANGHAI, April 19 The amount of electricity
wasted by China's solar and wind power sectors rose
significantly last year, environment group Greenpeace said in a
research report published Wednesday, despite government pledges
to rectify the problem.
China has promised to improve what it called the "rhythm" of
grid and generation capacity construction to avoid
"curtailment," which occurs when there is insufficient
transmission to absorb power produced by renewable projects.
But Greenpeace said wasted wind power still reached 17
percent of the total generated by wind farms last year, up from
8 percent in 2014, and was as high as 43 percent in the
northwestern province of Gansu. The amount that failed to make
it to the grid was enough to power Beijing for the whole of
2015, it added.
Solar curtailment across China rose 50 percent over 2015 and
2016. More than 30 percent of solar power in Gansu and
neighbouring Xinjiang failed to reach the grid.
Greenpeace said earlier that total solar and wind investment
between now and 2030 could hit $780 billion.
But, rising levels of waste cost the industry as much as
34.1 billion yuan ($4.95 billion) in lost earnings over 2015-16,
it said Wednesday.
China's energy regulator said late on Tuesday that it aims
to raise the share of non-hydro renewable electricity delivered
to the grid to 9 percent of the total by 2020, up from 6.3
percent last year and 5 percent in 2015.
It said renewable capacity hit 34.6 percent of the national
total in 2016, while actual generation from renewable sources -
including major hydro projects - stood at 25.4 percent of the
total last year.
China produced 12.3 billion kWh of solar power in the first
quarter of 2017, up 31 percent year-on-year but accounting for
just 1.1 percent of total generation over the period, official
data showed on Monday. Wind hit 62.1 billion kWh, 4.3 percent of
the total and dwarfed by the 77.9 percent share occupied by
Grid construction has slipped behind, with China focusing on
expensive ultra-high voltage (UHV) routes that better suit
large-scale power generation projects.
"Upgrades to the system are urgently needed, including a
more flexible physical structure of the grid, efficient
cross-region transmission channels and smart peak load
operation," said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Yuan
Many regions have used renewables as back-up electricity
sources during peak periods, and it falls idle when power use
drops. Provinces are now lobbying for UHV connections allowing
them to sell surplus power to other regions.
Executives at a Shanghai conference on Wednesday said
curtailment was eroding cash flows and discouraging investment,
and while China was looking for solutions, the answer was likely
to be technological.
"If you are in remote areas and there's no grid around, you
build storage - transformer stations and storage plants that can
make the energy available at a later stage," said Andreas
Liebheit, president of Heraeus Materials Technology Shanghai,
which produces specialist materials for solar panels.
($1 = 6.8894 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)