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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

China has a workable path toward making a huge head start on its long-term climate pledges by ensuring that essentially all new power generating capacity added going forward is zero-carbon, a new analysis argues.

Driving the news: The report out today offers what authors call a technically and economically feasible roadmap for transforming China's power sector over the next 10 years.

It's from the Rocky Mountain Institute, which is a clean energy think tank, and the Energy Transitions Commission, a coalition that brings together corporate heavyweights and NGOs.

By the numbers: China has recently pledged to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2060 and have its emissions peak before 2030.

The report says the roadmap on electricity in particular between now and 2030 would involve...

  • Electricity generation growing by 54% as demand grows and China works to electrify more of the economy to help curb emissions.
  • No new coal-fired capacity is added, while combined onshore wind and solar capacity would rise from 408 gigawatts in 2019 to roughly 1,650 GW in 2030.
  • There are smaller increases in hydro, nuclear, gas and offshore wind capacity additions.
  • Total non-fossil generation is 53% of the country's total by then in the roadmap aligned with fully decarbonized power by 2050.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter. So there's lots of interest in whether the country will translate its broad pledges into sweeping on-the-ground changes to its energy systems — and how that can happen.

The bottom line: One key finding is the technical challenges of having immensely larger amounts of variable renewables on China's grids are real but solvable.

  • It lays out ideas around improvements in forecasting and data management, voltage control and more.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.