20 GW of distributed solar by 2015 is the new goal in China. So far, about 2 GW has been installed, and six more could be added in 2014. Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are some of the focal points for the development projects.
35 GW by 2015 is the target for all solar installations. According to a new report, China will the biggest deployer of photovoltaics in 2013. (Record demand in Asia is being driven by China and Japan.)
China is the largest global energy consumer, and the second largest consumer of oil, with the US being number one. Coal and oil are its top two energy sources, with coal providing about seventy percent of its energy.
Air pollution in China has been a known problem for years. In some of the largest cities, there are days with low visibility because of dense smog. This year, it was reported that there are over one million premature deaths there per year, due to air pollution. Recently, air pollution shut down parts of a Chinese city.
The development of relatively small amounts of solar energy is good news, but China is the most populous country in the world. It also has a fast-growing economy and other development projects are responsible for the terrible air pollution.
So, 20 GW may sound like a large number compared to the existing solar resources, but it is a tiny portion of the renewable energy that is needed. Cynics might say these small projects are too trivial to make a difference, and that the attempt to blend fossil fuels with renewables is a doomed strategy. China, however, has had no sudden, crystallizing incident like Fukushima.
Online media, including citizen journalism and bloggers, might help propel greater interest in renewables by focusing more attention on the health impacts of coal and oil, like the persistent, toxic air pollution.
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