Changing economics of China’s power system suggest that batteries and renewables may be a lower cost way to meet peak demand growth than coal
Concerns around reliability in China’s electricity sector have rekindled interest in a traditional solution: building more coal-fired generation. However, over the past decade China’s electricity sector has seen significant changes in supply costs, demand patterns, and regulation and markets, with falling costs for renewable and storage generation, “peakier” demand, and the creation of wholesale markets. These changes suggest that traditional approaches to evaluating the economics of different supply options may be outdated. This paper illustrates how a net capacity cost metric – fixed costs minus net market revenues – might be a useful metric for evaluating supply options to meet peak demand growth in China. Using a simplified example with recent resource cost data, the paper illustrates how, with a net capacity cost metric, electricity storage and solar PV may be a more cost-effective option for meeting peak demand growth than coal-fired generation.
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An open-access version of this article published in iScience can be downloaded here.