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China, Now the Largest Source of Solar Power, Investor in Renewable Energy

China, Now the Largest Source of Solar Power, Investor in Renewable Energy
PHOTOGRAPH: Popolon | Solar panels on light poles in the hamlet of Kesu’er Cun (克素尔村), in Qinghai province, China.

People all over the world have known for some time that China has the biggest population. What people should come to realize is that the world’s most populous country also has the biggest production of solar power.

This is clearly indicated by the country’s photovoltaic (PV) capacity of 77.42 gigawatts at the end of 2016, as monitored by the National Energy Administration (NEA). The country has evidently veered away from the usage of fossil fuels and focused on renewable energy projects.

Some of the country’s multitudinous people live in its provinces. China’s geography lends itself to large solar energy farms.

Shandong, Xinjiang and Henan provinces reportedly had the greatest increase in solar capacity last year. Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, and Inner Magnolia were the ones listed as having the highest overall capacity at year’s end of 2016.

The Shift to Renewable Energy

The biggest testimony to China’s commitment to renewable energy would be the 2.5 trillion yuan ($364 billion) expected total investments by the end of the decade. Other countries, like Iceland which is drilling the largest geothermal energy well in the world, have also shifted away from fossil fuels.

The enormity of Chinese investments was confirmed by entities focused on new energy finances. China’s total investments on domestic renewable energy amounted to $102 billion in 2015 – more than twice the total spent by the United States and five times that of the United Kingdom.

For its part, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) noted some important things. Among these is that China owns the following:

  • Five of the world’s six largest solar module manufacturing firms.
  • The largest wind-turbine manufacturer.
  • The largest lithium ion manufacturer.
  • The largest electricity utility.

IEEFA director Tim Buckley stated, “At the moment, China is leaving everyone behind and has a real first-mover and scale advantage.” He cited that in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean energy market, other countries, notably the U.S., are falling way behind.

Generating Power With an Eye on Climate Change

With the first quarter of 2017 fast unfolding, China is definitely among the countries to watch as it goes full throttle with big power generation projects. At the same time, it has committed to honor the Paris Agreement, which comprises efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

The country’s State Grid Corporation revealed plans to build a world power grid that would amount to as much as $50 trillion. The plans for the grid are envisioned to be operational by year 2050.



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