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Tuesday May 23, 2017

joomla

China’s fledgling solar-electric panel industry dropped world prices by 80 percent

A stunning achievement in a fiercely competitive high-tech market. China had leapfrogged from nursing a tiny, rural-oriented solar program in the 1990s to become the globe’s leader in what may soon be the world’s largest renewable energy source.

“They fundamentally changed the economics of solar all over the world,” said Amit Ronen, director of the Solar Institute of George Washington University, one of many scholars following the intense competition in the emerging $100 billion industry that supports the world’s growing solar energy demands.

China will plough 2.5tn yuan (£292bn) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency has said, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

The investment will create more than 13m jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power would contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

The spending comes as the cost of building large-scale solar plants has dropped by as much as 40% since 2010. China became the world’s top solar generator last year. About 700bn yuan will go towards wind farms and 500bn to hydro power, with tidal and geothermal getting the rest, the NDRC said.

The NEA’s job creation forecast differs from the NDRC’s in December that said it expected an additional 3m jobs, bringing the total in the sector to 13m by 2020.

Concerns about the social and economic costs of China’s air pollution have increased as the northern parts of the country, including the capital Beijing, have battled a bout of hazardous smog. More than half of the nation’s installed power capacity will still be fuelled by coal over the same period.

“They fundamentally changed the economics of solar all over the world,” said Amit Ronen, director of the Solar Institute of George Washington University, one of many scholars following the intense competition in the emerging $100 billion industry that supports the world’s growing solar energy demands.

China’s move eclipsed the leadership of the U.S. solar industry, which invented the technology, still holds many of the world’s patents and led the industry for more than three decades. Just how China accomplished that and why it did is still a matter of concern and debate among U.S. experts.One clear result is that the U.S. solar industry was hit hard by plunging prices and can no longer supply more than a third of rapidly growing U.S. appetite for solar panels, according to a recent Department of Energy report exploring “opportunities and challenges” of solar manufacturing.

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