Originally published on Sustainnovate.
China is aiming to triple its solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity by the year 2020, bringing it up to 143 gigawatts (GW), as newly revealed by the country’s National Energy Administration.
The plan is to add between 15 GW and 20 GW of new solar PV generation capacity a year until 2020, according to the National Energy Administration’s Director Nur Bekri. Such a plan calls for the investment of around $368 billion in various grid infrastructure (smart grids, ultra-high voltage grids, etc) during the same period of time — in order to smooth the transition away from coal-fired power plants.
Considering that solar PV made up an only very negligible portion of China’s overall energy mix as recently as 2011, the transition seen over recent years has been quite impressive — with the company even managing to become the top solar PV market in the world in 2015 (in terms of cumulative installed capacity), taking the mantle from Germany. As just reported, China accounted for $103 billion of the $286 billion invested globally in renewable energy in 2015.
But in order for the country to truly move away from fossil fuels and address its greenhouse gas and air pollution problems, the transform needs to be sped up further — which is where the new plans come in.
With the country possessing 43.2 GW of solar PV capacity in 2015, the plan is calling essentially for the development of around 100 GW of new solar PV capacity in just a few years, in a single market. The achievement of this goal will be helped along and made more manageable by the fact that China accounted for a majority (around 70%) of the global solar PV panel output in 2015 — when it produced around 43 GW worth of solar PV panels.
Hollywood actor and sometimes climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio recently commented on this move, amongst others, while promoting a movie in Beijing earlier this week, when he stated: “I think that China has made radical movements forward as far as alternative energy and ways to be sustainable. I really think that China can be the hero of the environmental movement. They can be the hero of the climate change movement.”