China Ups the Ante on Solar Power
A recent report by Ernst & Young revealed that China is the most attractive country for investors in renewable energy, ahead of the United States, India, and Germany. This is primarily due to China's diversification of its renewable energy portfolio by increasing emphasis on offshore wind and concentrated solar power. Along with the ever-increasing advent of new technologies, China is in a league of its own. The above report has prompted China to increase its 2015 solar capacity target from 5 GW to 10 GW, with an even loftier goal of reaching 50 GW by 2020.
An article by China Daily states that China's solar energy industry is on the cusp of a huge boom. The country is already the world's top solar panel exporter and is expected to become one of the major PV-module consumers as well. Charles Gay, president of Applied Material's solar business division claims that "by 2018, grid parity will be met in China, two years ahead of the United States." Gay also expects the global solar industry to grow by at least 30 percent annually in the next five years. He argues this would further stimulate the Chinese market for solar energy.
Chinese researchers at the Shanghai Solar Energy Research Centre point to the falling cost of solar power as one of the main catalysts in solar research and development. Vice President Hao Guoqiang believes solar prices are dropping about 10 to 20 percent each year. Asia Pacific News reports that Guoqiang and other researchers are optimistic that solar should be able to ease the country's power shortage by 2015.
In addition to establishing a domestic base for solar energy, China is planning multiple business ventures in 40 African countries, aiming to cut their reliance on traditional fossil fuels and increase the market for Chinese manufacturers. As described in this Business Report article, China is looking to divert its solar marketing efforts away from Europe, where an oversupply in solar panels caused the export-value growth of Chinese PV products to decline from 107 percent in 2010 to an expected 60 percent this year. Initial cost estimates for the Africa program are at $100 million, which will use competitive bidding to market Chinese-made panels.
From the above reports, it certainly seems as though China has devised a long-term strategy to address its growing role in the solar industry. Solar cell prices are dropping across the globe and countries like China, the US, India, and Germany should be the first to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits that solar has to offer.