China smashes 2020 solar power target, leaves US & Europe in Dust

By Sam Morgan | ( EURACTIV.com) | – –

China eclipses Europe as 2020 solar power target is smashed.

China has reached its 2020 solar power target three years ahead of schedule, after installed capacity topped well over its 105GW target. Europe has been urged to show similar ambition.

New figures published by solar industry firm Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA) last week revealed that China has exceeded its 2020 target of 105GW of installed solar capacity, after new builds in June and July pushed it up beyond 112GW.

Solar power is enjoying a sunny 2017 in China, after the first half of this year saw capacity increased by 24.4GW, dwarfing similar efforts in Europe, and cementing China’s status as the world’s leading solar nation.

Sun sets on nuclear as solar capacity catches up with atomic power

Solar photovoltaic capacity (PV) will soon match and even overtake nuclear energy’s global capacity, according to new US research. High demand means PV could even become the globe’s dominant energy source by 2050.

China is not planning to rest on its laurels either. Officials have recently tweaked its 2017 forecast for new solar installations and figures now suggest that total new capacity for this year could reach 45GW. In contrast, in 2016 Germany’s total capacity was 41.1GW.

Renewable energy groups have called on Europe to be more like China and strive to be number one in the sector. SolarPower Europe association urged the EU to increase the current 27% renewable energy target for 2030 to 35%.

The association’s recent Global Market Outlook concluded that only a 35% target will maintain the impetus for the renewable industry. It also estimated that the bloc will struggle to hit the current 27% goal unless ambitions are raised.

China’s ambitions are admittedly impressive. It already boasts the largest solar farm in the world, which measures in at over 30 square kilometres. It also recently opened the world’s largest floating solar farm, which is positioned over an old coal mine.

But once capacity and landmark projects are excluded from the equation, the Chinese solar sector does have significant problems. Although China hit its 2020 target, only 1% of its energy demand is satisfied by solar power. Coal still reigns supreme in its energy mix.

There is also the issue of subsidies. Feed-in-tariffs, paid to solar companies to generate power and make the market more attractive, have often arrived late, hurting the bottom lines of many of those energy firms.

Via EURACTIV.com

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

China Leaving United States Behind On Green Energy Jobs | On Assignment with Richard Engel | MSNBC

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2 Responses

  1. If China is casting around for the magic bullet to finally make solar cheaper than coal, the floating solar array may be the key. We know a real estate bubble already exists in Chinese cities. As that spreads to suburban regions, the land costs for solar arrays could become a problem – but the existence of air pollution from coal becomes an even bigger problem. The bourgeois buying and moving to that land will have more political power than the farmers who have to suffer from the coal-fired stations being built there now to feed urban demand. If enough fresh water can be found to position these arrays, they will have better typhoon protection than offshore wind could.

  2. This should NOT be surprising.

    Humans need personal energy (food) and community energy (fire, electricity , etc.) to thrive.

    The Chinese leadership KNOW that over 50% of the population, at a MINIMUM, MUST have sufficient personal and community energy for the leadership to stay in power. Right now, carbon energy is used for community energy, BUT the leadership is well aware that carbon energy has huge costs that can NEVER go down, only up. As carbon energy costs increase, the number of humans in China that can afford carbon energy will go down, threatening the leadership.

    To stay in power, the leadership MUST find another energy source. One that is “permanent,” inexpensive and not controlled by any possible opponent.

    Solar, wind (derived from solar) and hydro electric (derived from solar) are all inexpensive and long term after an initial investment. The only “problem” with solar and wind is night usage, but Tesla has invented a solution which the Chinese are rapidly implementing – Powerwall (stationary Li-ion storage systems).

    By making a investment in solar, wind and powerwall production capacity, China is able to ensure that a majority of their population will have the community energy to thrive.

    In the process, China has developed several industries that will provide export wealth for many years to come, especially after the USA discovers that it is non-competitive because it uses high cost carbon energy. At that point in time, Americans will also discover that they are so far behind on solar, wind and storage technology and carbon energy is draining so much wealth from their economy, they have no choice but to buy from China than build their own.

    Americans are “famous” for the lack of long term investment because the people in leadership today will not profit immediately. Whereas Chinese leadership has a 5000 year old cultural imperative to invest for the long term.

    FYI – China will surpass their 2030 goal by a huge margin. It is not unimaginable for China to be completely off carbon energy by 2035 instead of the projected 2050.

    Culture really can determine the future.

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