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How to reshape the energy system during the period of renewable energy increment

Author: Yonghao Electric Wire   Release time:2017-10-24 20:39:00   Visits:0
During the period of renewable energy incremental substitution, the quantitative and qualitative changes of energy system remodeling.

According to the 13th Five-Year Plan for energy development, it is estimated that China's non-fossil energy will account for about 15% of the total primary energy consumption by 2020.  The 2016 China Renewable Energy Development Report released recently by the General Institute of Hydropower and Water Resources Planning and Design mentioned that by 2020, China's hydropower installation will exceed 380 million kilowatts, wind power installation will exceed 230 million kilowatts, photovoltaic generation installation will exceed 160 million kilowatts, and biomass generation installation is expected to exceed 15 million kilowatts.  At present, China has become the world's largest producer and consumer of renewable energy. It is expected that renewable energy will enter the development stage of large-scale incremental substitution and regional stock substitution.

Does the incremental replacement phase of renewable energy mean that the old energy main body represented by coal will be completely abandoned and the energy main body will be transformed into renewable energy?  Does it mean that the high growth stage of renewable energy will become a thing of the past and the competition for renewable energy will become extremely fierce?  How will the quantitative and qualitative changes in the process of reshaping the energy system develop in the incremental replacement phase of renewable energy?

The Essence of China's Energy System Reform: Coordinated and Compatible Development

Whether economic development depends on traditional energy or new energy mainly based on renewable energy, the basis of discussion should be judged according to the time dimension. If we focus on the next 30 years, new energy must play an important supporting role in economic development, but from the current situation, traditional energy cannot be lost.  This means that the long-term high-carbon energy utilization mode dominated by coal will gradually change into a low-carbon energy utilization mode dominated by renewable energy.  This transformation is also an inherent need to protect the ecological environment and promote the construction of ecological civilization.

This leap has changed the main body of energy production, the content of production, the form of consumption and the category of consumers. It has also injected new connotation. Whether it is a gradual spiral development or a radical "big change" in the energy system depends on where the focus of energy system reform lies.  Through the observation and consideration of the content of China's energy reform in the past stage, China's energy system reform has neither retreated from facing "clean electricity" like the United States, nor adopted new energy to generate electricity by leaps and bounds like some countries in the world. Coordinated and compatible development will still be the main theme of China's energy system reform in the future.

Remodeling of Energy System: Repeated Adjustment from Quantitative Change to Qualitative Change

For the recent innovation of energy system, the implementation level is the remodeling of energy generation and consumption system.  In the process of remodeling, more ingredients are adjusted, while less ingredients are created.  Adjustment mainly refers to the adjustment of the structure to optimize it, the adjustment of the management entities to diversify it, the adjustment of capital integration to ease the financing difficulties and other problems. In the process of adjustment, mode innovation is carried out instead of relying solely on the innovation of technical means.  Through adjustment, a new market response is formed, thus promoting re-competition, re-innovation, and re-appreciation. Repeated adjustment in quantitative change eventually leads to the appearance of creation in qualitative change.

In the process of reshaping the energy system, the state has carried out structural reforms on the energy supply side in terms of energy production in order to improve the quality of energy supply.  In February 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics released Energy Production in 2016. The annual output of raw coal was 3.41 billion tons, down 9.0% from the previous year, and the output of crude oil was 199.69 million tons, down 6.9% from the previous year.  The annual electricity output reached 612.5 billion kilowatt-hours, up 5.6% over the previous year and 5.3 percentage points faster.  The structural reform on the energy supply side has achieved initial results in eliminating excess capacity, and the rapid growth of power generation indicates that the power production structure has been further optimized.
At the same time, we also need to see the other side of the data.  Coal imports increased rapidly, with 260 million tons of coal imported in the whole year, up 25.2% year-on-year, while crude oil was "produced at the top", with the ratio of annual output to imports being about 1:2.  The decrease in self-sufficient production and the increase in import quantity mean that the consumption pattern of energy has not changed fundamentally and the production and consumption of energy are not coordinated.

The reshaping process of the energy system needs to conform to the natural development law from quantitative change to qualitative change. It cannot pursue a rapid reversal of the leapfrog energy production structure, but should be gradually adjusted, promoted and implemented.  For example, the removal of excess coal production capacity cannot be separated from the standardization, achievement and over-administration of market demand. Instead, market rules should play a leading role.

Contradiction Point of System Remodeling: It is Difficult to Balance Interests Demands of Various Subjects

No matter from the needs of building ecological civilization or from the scarcity of resources in the trend of energy development and utilization, it is imperative to reshape the energy system.  In terms of resource scarcity analysis, compared with renewable energy, traditional energy sources such as coal and oil will become more and more obvious in the current energy consumption pattern due to their non-renewability.  To solve this problem depends on two ways. One is to change the structure of energy production field and vigorously develop renewable energy. The other is to reform the energy consumption mode so that renewable energy can play a supporting role in the energy consumption field.
These two approaches both mean that the interests of the existing subjects have been adjusted in the energy field.  From the perspective of energy producers, changes in the energy supply structure mean changes in investment and business content.  From the perspective of resource allocation, adjustment means that resources are re-allocated, and the main body that occupies the dominant position in resource allocation in the old energy system will lose or partially lose the dominant position in resource allocation in the new energy system.  From the point of view of energy consumers, the change of energy supply structure means that new energy supply has to be chosen. Since the current comprehensive cost of renewable energy cannot compete with traditional energy, the choice of renewable energy by energy consumers means that the direct economic cost has increased.

Mode innovation is a phased measure in the period of renewable energy incremental replacement.

Technological innovation and development play a leading role in the development and utilization of energy in the era of energy shortage. With the widespread application of technology and the emergence of regional energy surplus, technological drive has encountered a bottleneck period, and mode innovation has gradually become an important measure for the development of energy economy, especially in the period of incremental substitution of renewable energy, and mode innovation of energy consumption will probably dominate.  Although science and technology are still the primary productive forces in the field of energy economic development, in the coming period, technology will mainly play a basic supporting role and will not play a role in value creation, which will depend on model innovation.
Judging from the level of energy consumption, China's per capita energy consumption in 2014 was about 3.1 tons of standard coal, less than half of that of developed countries. In 2014, the per capita installed power capacity was about 1 kilowatt, which was about 30% of that of the United States at that time. With the improvement of the living standard and quality of our people, the per capita energy consumption and energy demand will greatly increase.  Therefore, the role of mode innovation in the field of energy consumption is still relatively large.

Innovation in Energy Consumption is Urgent

Incremental substitution and regional stock substitution are not optimistic signals for the development of renewable energy, which indicates that the competition in the field of energy production will be more intense.  Judging from the relationship between supply and demand, we can think of this period as a local energy surplus.  The key to solving this problem lies in reforming the energy consumption field and promoting new and old forms of energy consumption.  The key to reshaping the energy system lies in improving the utilization rate of renewable energy and guiding the change of consumption pattern is the premise and foundation.  Under the premise that the current renewable energy cannot completely replace the traditional energy dominated by fossil fuels, improving the energy utilization efficiency to control the excessive growth of the total amount of energy is an effective and important way to relieve the pressure of environmental and ecological problems.
Under the idea of structural reform on the energy supply side, the demand side, that is, energy consumption, urgently needs innovation to adapt to the structural reform on the energy supply side.  There is no demand-side participation, only rely on the supply side, from the perspective of market reaction, consumers are not buying it.  The innovation of energy consumption cannot rely solely on technology to promote energy efficiency improvement. At present, the role of technology in improving energy efficiency is not very obvious. It is necessary to expand the extension of energy consumption subject and increase the connotation of energy consumption subject, i.e. to integrate new energy consumption modes such as new energy vehicles, smart cities and the change of people's lifestyle to the direction of environmental protection.
In short, as far as the current situation of energy development in our country is concerned, the dominant position of traditional energy has not changed, and the consumption pattern of high-carbon energy with low energy utilization efficiency has not changed fundamentally.  With the development of renewable energy and the fact that people still rely on traditional energy in consumption cost, the competition between various types of energy will become more intense in the incremental substitution of renewable energy, but the trend of substitution will not change.  However, the process of reshaping China's energy system can be basically summarized as follows: taking repeated adjustment in quantitative change as a measure, and taking value reconstruction in qualitative change as a goal.  Reshaping the energy system is a positive response to the reform of energy production and consumption as well as a practical means and measures.