China seeks energy independence
China is arguably the oldest nation state on earth. And the fact that it installed more solar panels than any other nation last year means it is heading for a new kind of independence. The country’s current reliance on imported oil and its well-publicized air-pollution problem are motivating reasons to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. All the indicators point to the fact that China’s investment in renewables like solar will only accelerate.
“China has been working on revising its existing PV policies to incentivize PV investors to reach the central government’s target of 14 GW in installations by the end of 2014. And there is more than money at stake. Meeting this target will help combat one of China’s major challenges - air pollution,” said Canadian Solar CEO, Dr. Shawn Qu.
“This growth poses a tremendous challenge to all stakeholders along the PV value chain. According to Solarbuzz, worldwide module manufacturing volume is about 4 GW every month. As the installation rush starts to move into top gear in China, material prices are increasing steadily as a result of the increased demand,” he added.
While China’s quest for self-sufficiency spans the entire energy production spectrum, it nevertheless leads the world in renewable energy investment. According to Forbes, the country spent a total of $56.3 billion on wind, solar and other renewable projects in 2013. This accounts for no less than 61 percent of the total investment in renewables by developing countries. It is also worth noting that China invested more in renewable energy than all of Europe over the same period.
“Of specific relevance to our industry is that China installed 12 gigawatts of solar panels in 2013 and now has more solar panels than any other country,” said Dr Qu. International Business Times points out that this is equivalent to the total amount of panels in the United States, and more than any country has ever added in a single year. There is no sign of this progress slowing down. China has increased its investment in renewables nearly every year for the past ten years. The Chinese government help maintain momentum by subsidizing the renewable energy campaign and it is also building massive solar projects, like the 1000 MW plant in the Xinjiang Region. China’s goal is to have 35 gigawatts of solar energy by 2015 and Canadian Solar is playing its part in the country’s renewable energy revolution with the 30 MW SuZhou Gold Sun installation and other projects.
“We also opened a state-of-the-art solar PV Research Center in Suzhou in 2009, a 1500 square meter facility staffed by PhD scientists, engineers and technicians who research solar cell and solar module technologies,” said Dr. Qu. “There can be no doubt that our company, and products like the highly efficient and durable CS6P-P module will be directly involved in helping make China energy independent,” he said.