Chinese city dwellers willing to pay more for green electricity

A number of China’s urban consumers are willing to pay higher bills to buy “green electricity” from renewable sources like wind, solar or biomass, a recent survey commissioned by the China Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) has found.

According to a news report on the Chinadialogue, the survey, by the market research firm Ipsos, found that 97.6% of respondents favoured using green electricity to tackle air pollution, and that 44% of those surveyed were willing to accept a 10 yuan (US$1.50) increase in their monthly bills for a greater share of green energy.

However, energy sector experts warn that consumer power in China’s utilities sector is too weak to produce a decisive shift in China’s energy mix, despite plentiful sources of clean power.

China’s “green electricity” sector generating from wind, solar and biomass has grown fast, and China now has more combined wind and solar generation capacity than any other country in the world. Yet nearly three quarters of China’s electricity in 2015 came from thermal power stations burning coal, causing air pollution and carbon emissions.

Interviewees in all cities expressed concern over environmental issues, with over 40 per cent “very concerned” about China’s environment. Concern about China’s dirty air motivated 85.6 per cent of respondents, while 44.2% cited worries about climate change.

Attitudes to “green electricity” were strongly linked to disgust at China’s air pollution; more than 90 per cent of interviewees thought green electricity would help reduce pollution.

The survey found a strong willingness to purchase “green electricity”. Over 90% (97.6%) said they were willing to buy it, and 40.7% said they definitely would. Willingness to pay more was stronger in Beijing than elsewhere.

Consumers also strongly supported showing the source of electricity on electricity bills. However, Chinese consumers cannot choose their supplier, unlike some consumers in the US and Europe, so, they cannot “vote with their wallets” to support the development of clean and renewable sources of energy. 

The majority of interviewees (90.6 per cent) said they were willing to pay more for “green electricity”, with more than 40 per cent ready to accept a monthly increase of 10-30 yuan, which is more than 10 per cent of the average household electricity bill of roughly 100 yuan a month.

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