The role of biomass in deeply decarbonizing China's power generation: implications for policy design and implementation
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More than two thirds of the existing electricity generating capacity in China is coal-fired, making its power sector the most carbon-intensive in the world. Biomass-fueled power generation offers a sustainable window of opportunity to meet multi-objective challenges in the context of transition in the economic growth model. Bioenergy can also bring about macroeconomic and environmental co-benefits such as energy security, public health, an improved labor market and social welfare through the creation of green jobs, the drive toward industrial innovation, poverty alleviation and mitigation of greenhouse gases and air pollution. This paper attempts to shed light on the status quo, achievements, opportunities and underlying challenges of scaling up biomass power generation in China by drawing lessons from other more advanced renewables. The analysis focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of large-scale penetration of biomass in China's electricity market from both technical and economic perspectives. More specifically, it emphasizes that cost-effectiveness needs to be mainstreamed in the policy design and long-term planning for biomass power industry development. The accelerated penetration of bioenergy will contribute to optimizing the portfolio of a decarbonized power sector in light of a sustainable new normal Chinese economy through the next few decades.
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