China is the world leader in renewable energy, including 40 percent of the planet’s entire solar capacity, reported Rystad Energy. The United States comes in second place with 12 percent.

By: Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

ast year, China installed more new solar capacity than the total amount ever installed in any other country, Bloomberg reported.

“China’s solar sector is set to break records in the coming years. When installed capacity crosses the 500 gigawatts (GW) mark by the end of 2023, it will have taken 13 years to reach that milestone. That total, however, will be doubled to 1 terawatt (TW) in just three additional years,” Rystad Energy said.

According to China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), the country increased its solar capacity by 216.9 GW last year, eclipsing its record of 87.4 GW from the previous year, reported Bloomberg. That’s more than the U.S. total of 175.2 GW, estimates by BloombergNEF said.

In 2023, China’s new energy investments rose more than 34 percent, said NEA spokesperson Zhang Xing in a press release from the State Council.

“The remarkable surge in investments in China’s renewable energy sector, particularly in solar and wind, underscores the country’s strategic focus on diversifying its energy portfolio and reducing reliance on traditional sources,” said Lin Boqiang, head of Xiamen University’s China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy, in the press release. “China’s global leadership in renewable energy is evident not only in the scale of investments but also in the widespread adoption of innovative technologies and practices.”

An International Renewable Energy Agency report said photovoltaic power and wind generation costs have gone down by more than 80 and 60 percent, respectively, over the course of the past decade, in large part due to China’s innovation, engineering and manufacturing, the press release said.

NEA data showed China’s installed solar power generation capacity increased by 55.2 percent last year, while its overall capacity for power generation went up by 13.9 percent to a total of 2,919 GW, Reuters reported. Wind power generation capacity in the country grew by 20.7 percent.

Government targets have driven the fast growth in capacity. Beijing has plans to reach peak emissions by the end of the decade and become carbon-neutral by 2060.

The government’s goal of building 1,200 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 is on track to be met five years ahead of schedule.

“In terms of investments, Chinese enterprises have extended their reach across major countries and regions, investing in wind power, photovoltaic generation and hydropower, leveraging their expertise and know-how,” said Pan Huimin, deputy head of the NEA’s international cooperation department, in the press release. “So far, Chinese wind and solar products worth over $33.4 billion and $245.3 billion, respectively, have been exported to more than 200 countries and regions.”

Cristen is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. She holds a JD and an Ocean & Coastal Law Certificate from University of Oregon School of Law and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of the short story collection The Smallest of Entryways, as well as the travel biography, Ernest’s Way: An International Journey Through Hemingway’s Life.

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