The cost of supplying solar energy on a large scale is expected to be lower than coal-fired power by 2025, creating favourable conditions for China’s still arduous transition to carbon neutrality, industry insiders said in Beijing on March 17.

The favourable situation for China’s climate progress will occur thanks to continuous decreases in costs for solar power generation and battery energy storage systems that could help ensure stable output, they said at a forum on photovoltaic energy storage.

The forum was held only two days after the ninth meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, which was presided over by President Xi Jinping.

China will build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system, control the use of fossil fuels and take action to shift to alternative energy sources, according to a news release issued by the committee after the meeting.

While addressing the Climate Ambition Summit via video link on December 12, Xi announced that China will lift its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200GW by 2030.

The first major challenge confronting new energy development is to keep bringing down costs. While the cost of solar energy has been the lowest compared with other types of new energy, its intermittent character hinders large-scale application, said Chen Guoguang, president of the smart photovoltaic business unit of telecommunications company Huawei.

“The inevitable solution to address the problem is to combine photovoltaic power generation with battery energy storage,” he said on the sidelines of March 17’s forum.

Huawei started its energy storage-related business in 2010.

After a rapid decrease in the cost of battery storage in the coming three to five years and with the support of storage facilities, Chen said he expects to see the cost of supplying 1kWh of electricity in the country’s photovoltaic power generation system to the grid decrease to roughly 0.3 yuan (4.6 US cents), which is even lower than the current price of coal-fired power.

By then, the solar energy system will be transformed into one with stable and controllable output. Capable of replacing the traditional, high-energy-consuming electricity supply system, it will play a big role in helping the country to realise its target of carbon neutrality before 2060, he added.

Liu Wei, secretary-general of the China Energy Storage Alliance, said many regions across the country have been promoting the development of new energy storage facilities.

The alliance’s database shows that the installed capacity of new energy projects being constructed with storage facilities across the country has reached 4GW, she said.

Seventeen provincial-level regions have included new energy storage in their 14th Five-Year Plans (2021-2025) and long-term objectives through the year 2035, she said.

Liu also said 29 provincial-level regions have introduced preferential policies to encourage the construction of new energy storage facilities.