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China and IRENA boost ties as largest renewables market eyes carbon neutrality

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the National Energy Administration of the People’s Republic of China (NEA) have agreed to work to strengthen cooperation as the world’s largest renewable energy market builds momentum towards the achievement of its carbon neutrality goals. China has pledged to peak its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before 2030 and committed to the achievement of carbon neutrality before 2060.

On June 7, 2021, Zhang Jianhua (left), Administrator China’s National Energy Administration of China, and Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance the transition and cooperate on the market development of renewable energy transition (photo courtesy IRENA).

China has committed to raising its non-fossil fuel share of primary energy to 25 percent by 2030 and increasing the total installed capacity of solar and wind to 1 200 GW by that time.

Under the agreement, IRENA will prepare a comprehensive energy transition roadmap identifying key policy actions, technology solutions, and industrial development programmes to enable the realization of medium- and long-term national renewable energy goals and decarbonization aims.

Joint work will also include the identification of optimal sub-national pathways to carbon neutrality.

China is a fundamental actor in the achievement of a rapid energy transition that aligns global development with a climate-safe, inclusive and just future. IRENA will strongly support China’s efforts to achieve its decarbonization goals at home while leveraging our unique global platform to bring the benefits of Chinese knowledge and experience to countries pursuing their own transitions around the world, said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA.

According to data from IRENA, China installed a record 136 GW of new renewable energy capacity last year (2020) – more than half of global additions in 2020 – with the bulk coming from 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar.  In total, China accounts for close to a third of globally installed renewables capacity today.

Further areas of cooperation include the co-development of reports relevant within multilateral settings such as G20 and ASEAN, and analysis of technological solutions around the integration of high shares of variable renewables including smart grids, energy storage solutions, and technology standards.

The two parties will also work closely on the production and use of renewable fuels including biofuels, hydrogen, and electro-fuels (e-fuels).

Signing this MoU between NEA and IRENA is an important milestone, which will further solidify and strengthen energy transition cooperation between the two parties. We aim to maximize complementarities and share experience, talent, and innovative solutions to deliver concrete outcomes to both sides while contributing to the global energy transition said Zhang Jianhua, NEA Administrator during the official virtual signing event held on June 7, 2021.

IRENA and the NEA will jointly support the exchange of best practices and experiences towards green and sustainable energy development in key countries and regions within the IRENA membership and will cooperate to host events, conduct workshops, and training.

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