BEIJING, Dec 1 (Reuters) - China's wind and solar power sectors could see their expansion moderating in the coming five years as the government focuses on cheaper hydropower, Ouyang Changyu, deputy general secretary of the China Electricity Council was quoted as saying by local media.
Because of wind and solar power's high generating costs and weak competitiveness, their development would be curtailed, Ouyang was quoted as saying by Caixin Media at an event on Tuesday organised by the influential industry association.
Hydropower would be the first choice for energy-saving and pollution reduction purposes even though hydropower costs could approach or even exceed thermal power as more hydropower projects are built in remote regions that entail more transmission costs, Ouyang said in the report on Caixin's website (www.caing.com).
The National Development and Reform Commission has approved a series of new hydropower projects in recent months, in a sign that the government is speeding up hydropower development after an approvals slowdown in recent years because of concerns including environmental impact. [ID:nTOE6AS06F]
China's rigid and complex power pricing system rewards coal-burning power plants with higher grid feed-in tariffs than hydropower stations. Wind power prices are even higher and solar power prices the highest.
It was not clear whether the government would raise feed-in rates for hydropower projects as an incentive to boost development.
Normal hydropower capacity would grow to 284 gigawatts (GW) and pumped storage hydropower capacity to 41 GW by 2015, and to 330 GW and 60 GW, respectively, by 2020, Ouyang was quoted as saying by the 21th Century Business Herald.
China's hydropower capacity topped 200 GW in August.
Coal-fired power capacity will reach 933 GW by 2015 and nuclear power is set to rise to 42.94 GW by 2015 and 90 GW by 2020, the newspaper reported, citing Ouyang.
Ouyang headed a research project on the next five-year power industry plan that was expected to be published in the second half of this month after government approvals, the newspaper said.
Development of clean energy including wind and solar power would leap forward after 2020, the report said.
"According to the plan, average retail power prices will rise to more than 0.7 yuan per kilowatt hour (kwh) in 2015 and more than 0.8 yuan/kwh by 2020," Ouyang was quoted as saying.
In 2009, China's average retail price was 0.5343 yuan/kwh, excluding some surcharges. (Reporting by Jim Bai and Tom Miles; Editing by Chris Lewis)