China surges with 52 Gigs of new Solar as Trump kneecaps US sector with 30% Tariffs

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Clean Technica reports that China blew the top off expectations for its solar installations in 2017, It put in 52.83 gigawatts.

The incredible 2017 solar surge in China brought its total solar installed capacity up to 130 gigawatts. As a cursory look at these statistics makes obvious, in one year China increased its solar by nearly 70 percent. In short, it wasn’t so far from doubling its ability to generate electricity from solar sources.


Xi Jinping visiting a Chinese solar factory via Xinhua.net

The US is a midget in the solar generation game, in contrast.

Seven percent of China’s electricity now comes from solar. Note that not long ago, 80% of China’s electricity came from burning coal, the deadliest and most polluting of the fossil fuels. Not only has solar generation increased enormously, but every gigawatt from that source takes coal offline and vastly reduces carbon dioxide emissions, which produce global heating and catastrophic climate change.

Even corporate media, which typically have big investment portfolios in the fossil fuel companies–which influences them to be skeptical of renewables and to avoid reporting on climate change, admitted in shock that global investors put $333 bn. into the renewable energy sector in 2017, an increase of 3 percent. Some 40% of that investment came from China alone, now the world renewables leader.

The continued strong interest in the sector comes in part from the dramatic price fall in solar and wind installation, which in turn has spurred intense new interest in the global south.

France-based Cap Vert Energie, for instance, just announced $37 million in financing for 11 solar projects in Chile. A new 100-megawatt solar installation just opened near Santiago, allowing 60% of the energy needed to run the capital’s metro (subway) to come from renewables–a first for any city in the world. New solar bids in Chile are being offered at 2.5 cents a kilowatt hour, a harbinger of the collapse of energy costs. Coal is usually estimated as generating electricity at 5 cents a kilowatt hour, though that price ignores its severe environmental and health costs. This kind of incremental spread of solar and wind in the global South is flying under the radar of most analysts.

In the US, there has been a relatively successful corporate resistance to renewables, which is reinforced by measures such as Trump’s support for coal and his recent slapping of a 30% tariff on inexpensive Chinese solar panels, as well as by state legislatures’ obstructionism, paid for by ALEC and the Koch brothers. Renewables only account for 15% of US electricity generation, with a lot of that being hydro, despite a massive and expensive crisis of extreme weather and sea level rise. Trump’s tariffs on inexpensive Chinese-made panels will especially hurt people in the Deep South, who have a great deal of sunshine but whose GOP state legislatures have put in punitive measures to keep them from saving money with rooftop solar installations. The tariffs, however, will only slow adoption of solar. I put American-made panels on my home because they are more reliable, and last summer my average electricity bill was $14 a month. Even the more expensive American ones pay for themselves in 7 years, less if you use them to power an electric car like a Bolt, Leaf or Tesla 3. The main problem isn’t the cost of the panels, which will fall rapidly anyway, but the lack of financing and of a favorable policy environment (Snyder in Michigan, a corrupt Koch puppet, slapped property taxes on solar panels).

The Chinese Communist Party is proving itself more rational and a better friend to humankind than the American capitalists. You can’t generalize about these things. The East German Communist Party was a big polluter, and contemporary German capitalism is relatively Green in orientation. The American corporations on the whole, however, are allowing gnawing avarice to turn them into Satan himself.

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Related video:

Al Jazeera English: 🇨🇳 China builds largest floating solar farm in the world

7 Responses

  1. One might envision a tariff on China’s solar exports as support for solar manufacturing here in the US. However we know subsidized coal barons, who employ far fewer workers than Arby’s, and oil companies have Trump’s devotion and this is payback for their support. In Trumpworld technology is a product of those Godless scientist.

    Speaking of Trumpworld. Last night The X-Files ran an episode entitled “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” in which fake news is accepted as the norm. The show got a jab in at Trump when an alien descended from his space craft, rides over on his Segway to inform Muller a wall was going to be built around our solar system noting that earthlings are “Bad people, who deal in drugs. and that we are rapist and murderers.”

    I take it Chris Carter, the show’s producer, is not a Trump fan.

    • But by pimping conspiracy theories and UFO worship and general hatred of government and scientists, the X-Files did its part to get us to an America where the National Enquirer functions as the party organ of a fascistic president.

  2. This is what can be expected when IGNORANT, GREEDY people with POISONED MINDS who have no business into positions of power, trust and authority guerdon their benefactors and owners.

  3. So it’s official then Juan? The whole global climate change is, as your perspicacious leader tells us, a plot to put China in the driver’s seat?

  4. The US Solar Industry is mature enough to withstand the tariffs which are limited. It will be interesting to see if the panel tariff passes muster with the US Trade Commission which knocked down Trump’s political tariff against Bombardiar. The real impediments to solar are at the state level and local PUC level. I wonder if the US would consider a new national grid. That would have a larger ongoing impact on efficiency per invested $ than any other project. It’s such a vital no-brainer the current DoE is probably against it.

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