By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate.

According to a recent report released by Clean Energy Pipeline, global clean energy backing in the first half of 2016 totalled US$116.4 billion. China was the largest investor, financing US$15.3 billion worth of solar and wind projects and accounting for nearly 30% of the world’s total solar and wind investment.

Yet despite its significant investment, the output of China’s push into renewable technologies continues to be limited by its grid system, and subsequent curtailment. Curtailment occurs when energy is available, but the operator does not allow that energy to be delivered to the grid because there is no demand and/or the energy cannot be stored. According to the central government, nearly 15% of wind-generated electricity went unused in 2015. Also contributing to this challenge is the disconnect between where energy is generated and where it is needed. As an example, in 2014, 46% of wind power curtailment was caused by a failure to use electricity generated in the province of Gansu.