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Analysing the Renewable Energy Integration Paradigm in the Post-COVID-19 Era: An Examination of the Upcoming Energy Law of China

Authors: Lan Wu

Abstract:

China’s declared transformation towards a ‘new electricity system dominated by renewable energy’ requires a cleaner electricity consumption mix with high shares of renewable energy sourced-electricity (RES-E). Unfortunately, integration of RES-E into Chinese electricity markets remains a problem pending more robust legal support, evidenced by the curtailment of wind and solar power due to integration constraints. The upcoming Energy Law of the PRC (Energy Law) is expected to provide such long-awaiting support and coordinate the existing diverse sector-specific laws to deal with the weak implementation that dampening the delivery of their desired regulatory effects. However, in the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis, it remains uncertain how this new Energy Law brings synergies to RES-E integration, mindful of the significant impacts of the pandemic. Through the theoretical lens of the interplay between China’s electricity market reform and legislative development, this paper investigates whether there is a paradigm shift in Energy Law regarding renewable energy integration compared with the existing sector-specific energy laws. It examines the 2020 Draft for Comments on the Energy Law and analyses its relationship with sector-specific energy laws focusing on RES-E integration. The comparison is drawn upon five critical aspects of the RES-E integration issue, including the status of renewables, marketisation, incentive schemes, consumption mechanisms, access to power grids and dispatching. The analysis shows that it is reasonable to expect a more open and well-organised electricity market, enabling the absorption of high shares of RES-E. The present paper concludes that a period of prosperous development of RES-E in the post-COVID-19 era can be anticipated with the legal support by the upcoming Energy Law. It contributes to understanding the signals China is sending regarding the transition towards a cleaner energy future.

Keywords: energy law, energy transition, electricity market reform, renewable energy integration

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