The better integration of renewable energy, the creation of more flexibility for variable renewable energy, and the optimization of network expansion are shared challenges that China and Europe face on the way to a low-carbon economy. These topics were the discussion of a Dinner Dialogue hosted by Ecologic Institute with an expert delegation from China.
Dinner Dialogue as an expert exchange on low-carbon development
Ecologic Institute hosted a dinner dialogue on 13.12.2012 in the course of a fact-finding mission on "Low-carbon development", which was part of the project "German-Chinese Climate Partnership".
The eleven members of the delegation, which was headed by Mr. TIAN Chengchuan (Head of Strategic Planning, National Development and Reform Commission), discussed the major challenges for the development of renewable energy in Germany, Europe and China with the German experts.
Europe and China share challenges, especially with regards to the flexibility to variable renewable energy and the development of grids. Equally shared are the high ambitions as well as high growth rates in renewable energy.
Different challenges arise, however, from the previous development paths in each country: In Germany, the Renewable-Energy Law guarantees that renewable electricity is fed into the grid with priority access and a price guarantee. On the other hand, China generates more renewable electricity than is actually fed into the grid. The Chinese transmission operators refuse the full integration of electricity from renewable sources, due to their variability.
Learning from each other to improve a low-carbon development
Concerning the transformation and extension of grids, the coordination of the different actors is the main task in Europe. This is less of a problem in China. Although there are separate regional electricity networks in China, it should be easier to connect them. This strategy is followed by the national competent authority (State Grid) – but, opponents fear negative effects for grid stability.
In Germany / Europe and in China, the creation of flexibility for variable renewables (e.g.,dispatchable power plants, demand side management and response, energy storage, integration of energy sources) and the expansion of grids are necessary conditions for the continued success of renewable energy. The German feed-in tariff, including the priority dispatch of renewable energy, could be good tools to ensure the renewable electricity in China to be fed into the grid. Innovative technological solutions to improve the system services tested in China hold, in turn, potential for Germany and Europe. Further cooperation is valuable to both sides.