#China is by far the largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world. In other words, it is emitting more greenhouse gasses than any other country on Earth – and this is definitely not a good thing. However, China is also one of the fastest developing countries when it comes to #solar power. The country has managed to swiftly grow its solar power sector in the last couple of years. How? By investing in clean energy development and in solar energy deployment.
China managed to add around 53 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This is more than in 2016, when the country added around 30 gigawatts of solar power capacity. In other words, China is rapidly adding more and more solar power capacity year after year. But how did the country manage to increase its capacity so rapidly? Part of the answer is subsidies. The government offers subsidies to solar project developers, effectively incentivizing many of the developers in the energy sector to not build power plants that use coal to produce electricity. As you know, coal-fired power plants are one of the main generators of greenhouse gasses. On the other hand, photovoltaic panels that produce solar energy do not emit any of these gasses. PV power installations are not harmful to the atmosphere in any way.
In addition to offering subsidies, the government made sure solar energy costs would fall throughout China. This means that the price consumers pay for solar power is equal – or even lower, in some cases – than the price they pay for energy coming from other sources such as natural gas or coal. In recent years, solar power prices have been falling all around the world as well because of advances in PV technology (such as new and improved photovoltaic panels and advanced solar power storage systems).
Recently, NASA released some videos in time-lapse format from two of its satellites (ESA Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) that show just how rapidly China is adding PV power capacity. The expansion of the Chinese solar power installations is astoundingly fast. The installations located in Longyangxia and in Jinchang have expanded immensely in just 5 years (from 2003 to 2018). A technology company called Descartes Labs processed the photos taken from the satellites and created what they call a “data refinery for satellite imagery analysis”.
They chose the solar power installation in Longyangxia because it was once the largest such project in the world not long ago. The panels located in the Qinghai province covered a huge area of 10 square miles. It is not known how much energy this installation is capable of outputting, but it is definitely one of the largest installations in the world even by modern standards.
Even though China is still the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gasses, the country is taking rapid steps toward rectifying this problem. In 2017 alone, China invested more than $133 billion in clean energy technologies – solar power being the most important of them. The United States invested just $57 billion in solar power in the same year. Furthermore, solar power managed to get around 48% of the huge $133 billion investment.
If China can keep expanding its solar energy industry, it has a real chance of rapidly lowering its greenhouse emissions over the next couple of years. And the fact that solar energy costs are falling all over the world due to fast advances in technology and in the solar power industry is helpful as well. As long as consumers can purchase energy cheaper from solar developers, these developers will continue to expand and build more solar installations. Stay on top of solar news to stay in the know!