Building a unified national power market system in China: pathways for spot power markets

Power markets are an instrument used globally to ensure electricity security while maintaining affordability and incentivising decarbonisation. The People’s Republic of China (hereafter, “China”) has been making big steps towards implementing markets, and the goals announced in 2020 of carbon dioxide emissions peaking before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060 have added momentum to expand their footprint. Provinces have taken a leading role in designing and implementing markets. To improve sharing of resources, the guidance to implement a unified national market system pushes for more co-ordination between provinces. The main audience of this report is policy makers in China and all experts intending to contribute to power sector reforms. Other readers will also find information on the how the power sector and, in particular, power markets operate today in China and may evolve in the next decade. This report examines the role of power markets in China and the pathways to develop a national market. The analysis focuses on short-term markets because they have the potential to unlock flexibility the system needs in light of renewables growth and changing weather patterns. The report provides recommendations to improve markets’ co-ordination across the country as well as within the provinces.