China Installed More Solar Power in 2013 than the US has in its Whole History

(By Joshua S. Hill)

China’s Solar Market Beat All Expectations For 2013 (via Clean Technica)

Despite predictions all through 2013 suggesting that Japan would walk away the dominant solar PV market, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has revealed that China “outstripped even the most optimistic forecasts” to install a record 12 GW of photovoltaic…


Related Video:

FT’s short 2012 documentary on Xianjiang and solar power

10 Responses

  1. And yet, recent evidence suggests that China has become the world’s most massive source of pollution. Studies have shown that ten percent of the pollution on the United States’ West Coast originated in China and reached the U.S. airborne over the Pacific. The irony, of course, is that most of it was caused manufacturing products for U.S. consumption.

  2. Actually, China has installed more commercial-scale photovoltaics in the last year than the US has in its history.

    That figure leaves out rooftop solar, and leaves out solar thermal. In both categories, the US leads China by a very wide margin – which is why you won’t see those figures in a Juan Cole post.

    • List of largest solar-thermal plants in the world:

      link to

      China has exactly one facility on the list, a one-megawatt plant. The first American entry on the, the world’s largest solar-thermal plant, produces 354 times as much. The second entry on the list, also American: 280x as much.

      I wonder why China is slacking in solar thermal power? Because the whole solar enterprise there is run by the state, and the state settled on one technology?

      • Solar thermal has been unable to compete with solar PV. Projects intended to use thermal have been reengineered as PV. That is the reason the US leads: legacy.

        • “Solar thermal has been unable to compete with solar PV.”

          That’s a little behind the times. The technology of thermal has made great strides in cost, comparable to those made by PV.

          Ask the Spanish: link to

          Solar thermal electrical production is actually a newer, less-established technology than PV. It’s odd to see it described as “legacy.”

        • Joe from Lowell, solar thermal power has a history going back to Archimedes.

          “One must not believe, despite the silence of modern writings, that the idea of using solar heat for mechanical operations is recent. On the contrary, one must recognize that this idea is very ancient and its slow development across the centuries it has given birth to various curious devices.”

          — Augustin Bernard Mouchot, solar power engineer, at the Universal Exposition, Paris, France (1878).

          The photovoltaic effect was discovered as early as 1839, also in France, and various experiments and developments were made in the century that followed, but these were rightly in the realm of “pure science”. Solar cells actually useful for power purposes (that is, toys and eventually satellites) had to wait until 1954.

          For the purposes of electricity generation, solar thermal power was hands-down less expensive than PV until about five years ago when major deployment and manufacturing subsidies, particularly in Germany and China, brought down the cost of solar-grade silicon. This unexpected development ruined the careful business plans of solar entrepreneurs relying on solar thermal technologies and those banking on other semiconductor chemistries for solar PV.

          There is no question that the sudden and unforeseen low cost of silicon PV has changed the solar game for all non-silicon players.

          This may not remain the case forever. Solar thermal power may come into its own again.

        • “Solar Thermal” in a generic sense has a history going back to the first time a humanoid ancestor laid out something to dry in in the sun, but what we’re talking about is solar-thermal electrical generation, a fairly new technology – considerably newer than PV.

          There is no question that the sudden and unforeseen low cost of silicon PV has changed the solar game for all non-silicon players.

          “This may not remain the case forever. Solar thermal power may come into its own again.”

          Solar thermal never went away, even during this period of big declines in PV pricing, because it has a major advantage of PV: storing heat is much easier than storing electricity, and the molten salt used in new solar thermal plants means they can continue to produce electricity after sunset.

          link to

  3. Solar can change that quickly.. It has cost reduction potential to push coal out of the market. The Chinese have acted quickly to reduce subsidies, as Solar becomes able to compete on its own.

  4. Let me put on my KEYNESIANISM hat…imagine a stimulus in the US that would propel this country into the 21st century. China is doing what we should be doing. We should mandate a 3rd of this product be made in the US.

    The boom to the HomeDepot, Sears, etc. would be huge.

    I applaud China for the effort. America should be installing the next generation of infrastructure.

    Keep it Light!

  5. With just $1T of $4T we will have spent on Iraq and Afghanistan, we could have installed $25K worth of solar panels on 40,000,000 homes.

    Talk about opportunity cost…

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