Transactions - APRIL 19, 2017

Engie invests in Chinese solar company Unisun

by Andrea Waitrovich

French energy group Engie SA has purchased a 30 percent stake in Chinese solar company Unisun Group.

The value of the investment was not disclosed.

According to the announcement, Unisun has developed around 500 megawatts of photovoltaic projects since 2014 and has a target of developing a total of around 4 gigawatts by 2020 in China. The Chinese company will be supported in the development, ownership and operation of solar facilities, as well as smart energy management, by its new investor.

China has pledged to increase non–fossil fuel energy to at least 20 percent of total consumption by the end of the next decade, up from 12 percent in 2015, part of its efforts to tackle air pollution and bring carbon dioxide emissions to a peak by around 2030.

As of March 2017, China has made a 1 percent cut from its CO2 emitters, according to the International Energy Agency.

China’s wind and solar sectors could attract as much as 5.4 trillion yuan ($782 billion) in investment between 2016 and 2030 as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a report published by environmental organization Greenpeace.

To achieve its goal, China would need to raise wind and solar power’s share of primary energy consumption to 17 percent by 2030, up from 4 percent in 2015.

In its 2016–2020 “five-year plan” for renewables, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) laid out a plan to raise total wind generation capacity from 129 gigawatts in 2015 to more than 210 gigawatts in 2020, with solar set to increase from 43.18 gigawatts to 110 gigawatts over the same period.

Total renewable capacity, including hydropower, would rise to 680 gigawatts, 27 percent of the national total and up from around 480 gigawatts in 2015, the NDRC said.

The NDRC itself projected its plans would require a total investment of 2.5 trillion yuan on solar, wind and other renewables just over the 2016–2020 period.

However, the agency warned the country’s electricity distribution system was still not flexible enough to handle renewable power, and there were still technological obstacles when it came to connecting wind and solar to the grid, leading to large amounts of waste.

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