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China is the world largest market for solar energy. In 2015, China surpassed Germany as the country with the most solar capacity (43 GW) as announced by the China Photovoltaic Industry Association. The world leading solar PV country is also a driving force in the industry. With 53GW of new solar capacity installed and $86.5 billion invested in 2017, China accounted for just over half of that new global solar capacity and for 45% of the $279.8 billion committed worldwide to all renewable (Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment) The goal for 2050 is to reach 1,300 GW of solar capacity.  

According to the International Energy Agency ( IEA), more than 60% of the world’s solar panels are made in China, making the country the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of solar panel technology. In addition, the cost of photovoltaic technology continues to fall in China and the solar industry is not limited by the government quota. 

China’s war against pollution

China’s remarkable economic expansion in the last four decades has been fueled largely by coal, the country’s biggest anthropogenic contributor to pollution.  Air pollution in China is such a serious issue, that in 2015, the independent research group Berkeley Earth estimated it caused 1.6 million deaths in the country. The concentration of smog is higher in the northern regions of Shanxi or Hebei, where the coal mining and steel production factories are located. In these areas, pollution reaches alarming levels. The industrial activities produce and emit in the atmosphere a type of molecular particle (PM2.5) which is highly harmful to health due to its ability to penetrate into the pulmonary alveoli with possible diffusion in the blood.

Environmental pollution control policies with related incentives are not new to China, given the severity of the threat. To cope with the environmental challenge and energy security, China has taken giant strides in redesigning the energy mix. Nowadays, China is leading the way in the renewable energy industry, by being the largest manufacturer, exporter, and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and electric vehicles. 

To foster the development of renewable energy (2016-2020), with a particular focus on solar energy, the National Energy Administration adopted the 13th Five-Year Plan. The main objectives of the plan are to increase the share of non-fossil energy in total primary energy consumption to 15% by 2020 and 20% by 2030, to increase the installed renewable energy capacity to 680 GW by 2020, and finally to reduce dependence on foreign companies in the sector

The global energy transformation is driven by renewable

Renewable are changing the energy landscape and the patterns of trade, by establishing a new geopolitical power dynamic.  



The global energy transformation driven by renewable can reduce energy-related geopolitical tensions as we know them and will foster greater cooperation between states. This transformation can also mitigate social, economic and environmental challenges that are often among the root causes of geopolitical instability and conflict,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA.   


Rossana Diodato's picture

Thank Rossana for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 22, 2019 4:42 pm GMT

Rossana, in 2018 China consumed 554 TWh of electricity more than the year before. The 53 GW of solar installed last year, at 20% capacity factor, will be capable of providing 92.8 TWh of electricity in 2019 - only 17% of the new electricity China needed last year.

Because solar and wind are not remotely keeping up with consumption in the developing world, they're a recipe for climate failure.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 23, 2019 9:02 pm GMT

Trend for Nuclear generation WW - chart from International Atomic Energy Agengy

Because Nuclear is not increasing whatsoever - in fact it still 100 TWh below its peak - relying on Nuclear is a recipe for climate failure.

What about renewables

  • Solar capacity is growing by about 100 GW a year - using your 20% CF that is an additional 175.2 TWh per year .
  • Wind capacity is growing by about 60 GW a year - using 30% CF that is an additional 157.7 TWh per year.

So, you have Solar/Wind adding an additional 333 TWh of generation per year vs Nuclear generation which has been flat since 2002. Where should investment be focused?


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 23, 2019 10:17 pm GMT

Definitely valid to point out the trending directions of these sources rather than just the current state-- until and if small modular nuclear becomes commercially viable, renewables (along with storage) is where investment must continue to be focused when it comes to new generation

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 24, 2019 8:53 am GMT

"Nuclear is not increasing whatsoever..."

Joe, another demonstrably false statement, which I supposed can be expected as anti-nuclear fearmongers see their renewable dream evaporating before their eyes. Here, you again quote irrelevant "capacity" statistics, ignoring cloudy days, night, calm, etc. etc. etc. Enjoy:

"About 50 power reactors are currently being constructed in 15 countries, notably China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates...

In the 2018 edition of its World Energy Outlook report, the IEA's 'New Policies Scenario' sees installed nuclear capacity growth of 25% from 2016 (about 414 GWe) to 2040 (about 518 GWe). The scenario envisages a total generating capacity of 12,466 GWe by 2040, with the increase concentrated heavily in Asia, and in particular China (34% of the total). In this scenario, nuclear's contribution to global power generation is about 10% in 2040."

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 24, 2019 3:23 pm GMT

Generation Bob - generation. As I said Nuclear WW is generating 100 TWh less than it was in 2006. 

BP is now including electricity generation fuel share in its annual World Energy Review pg 47-48. 

Renewables added 307 TWh of new generation from 2016-2017 and Nuclear added 23 TWh.  Note: that 307 TWh growth in 2017 is pretty close to my 333 TWh estimate for current growth.

As you can see from the chart below nuclear share is declining while renewables is growing rapidly and will pass nuclear in the next few years.

Just in case the paragraph at bottom is hard to read.

Renewables’ share of power generation was 8.4% in 2017, having risen 6.1% percentage points since 2007. Over the same period, nuclear’s share declined by 3.4 percentage points while coal lost 3.1 percentage points.

Finally your quote:

"nuclear's contribution to global power generation is about 10% in 2040."

proves my point.  Nuclear share of WW generation is currently 10.3%.  Running in place.

Your horse is stuck in the gate.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 24, 2019 9:45 pm GMT

Joe, not surprised you're increasingly dependent on fossil fuel sources of propaganda ("BP Energy Review") - that, too, was predictable. Given wind and solar's dependence on methane, maybe re-branding them "renewables + fossils" would be more accurate - don't you think?

Have renewables + fossils (kinda like the sound of that) ever broken 8% of global electricity, Joe? What about decarbonizing 80% of an entire country's grid (France/Sweden)? Shame - your horse is being put out to pasture, and it's long overdue.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 24, 2019 11:14 pm GMT

Have renewables + fossils (kinda like the sound of that) ever broken 8% of global electricity, Joe? 

Renewables WW

  • 2016 1,845TWh/24,930TWh = 7.4%
  • 2017        2,152TWh/25,551 TWh = 8.4%

So renewables passed 8% in 2017. Should be passing 10% in 2019.  What did you say nuclear was going be at in 2040?

Renewables growing at 300+ TWh/year Worldwide. 

ZERO growth for nuclear Worldwide. In fact, still negative vs 2006.  Until it gets past its 2006 peak - nuclear is not even in the race.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 22, 2019 10:50 pm GMT

 Air pollution in China is such a serious issue, that in 2015, the independent research group Berkeley Earth estimated it caused 1.6 million deaths in the country.

This seems to be one of the biggest sticking points that's resonating with people in China-- the power generation pollution is an ever-present threat, not a far off almost 'conceptual one' like some peole treat climate change. I'd be curious what the response in more developed areas would be if we faced as direct and visible a threat

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