Photo from Washington Post.
Information originating from the National Energy Administration (NEA) showed that in 2016 alone, China implemented 34.24 gigawatts (GW) of additional solar energy. With a confirmed goal of 110 GW by 2020, project deployment is centered predominantly in the east, with large-scale endeavours overshadowing a previously-planned carve-out for distributed generation. Industry experts believe that the figure is likely to be exceeded by the final date, and may soon eclipse the American market for clean energy.
Since China's aggressive launch into serious solar in the last decade, the country began domestically producing photovoltaic equipment, driving the cost of technology down 50% between 2010 and 2013.The government offers discounted loans and feed-in tariffs to encourage growth. The shift is largely attributed to the ever-present air pollution and smog that hang over the country's major cities and manufacturing centers, and the vocal concern of its citizens.
To better illustrate the sheer enormity of the added potential, the Hoover Dam possesses 2.08 GW of maximum capacity, making last year’s expansion of Chinese solar more than 15 times as powerful.
Assuaging Climate Fears
The news comes as a relief to leaders of the European Union, who feared a global leadership vacuum and a subsequent weakening of the collective fight on climate change. The previous American administration was lauded in the environmental community for spearheading the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to limit global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to a pre-industrial baseline. The pact, which came into effect in December, is comprised of individual national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a collective fund for adaptations and innovations for countries that would be otherwise unable to afford them.
Current American leadership has long lambasted both the existence of climate change and any involvement of the U.S. in global coalitions to address its effects. President Trump’s accusation of a Chinese hoax seems to be negated by recent and scheduled initiatives by The Red Dragon.
“We need to embrace the fact that China has invested very heavily in clean energy,” said Gregory Barker, climate change minister to former British Prime Minister Cameron, in an interview with Reuters during an environmental conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
“If America won’t lead, then it’s clear that China will.”