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Solar = 44% of New Electricity Capacity in China in 2022

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Solar power growth is massive around the world, and nowhere a bigger piece of the pie than in Spain, but in terms of pure volume growth, China is absolutely in a league of its own. The country installed 96.6 GW of solar power capacity in 2022. That’s a 42% of the world total (231 GW).

Also, that represents massive growth for the country. Solar PV installations grew by 57% compared to 2021.

Looking at cumulative solar power deployment, China had 462 GW of solar PV power installed, 37.5% of the global total of 1,233 GW. Not only is that a mind-boggling share of the global solar market, but it also shows (compared to the 42% figure in 2022) that China’s share of the world total has been growing.

(Two of these bars are not like the others.)

But something else caught my eye as I looked more closely, and it may be the thing that I find most uplifting about the Chinese solar market. That stat is in the headline, that a whopping 44% of China’s new electricity generation capacity added in 2022 was from solar PV power. If you add in wind power, the two renewables together provided 64% of new power capacity in the Red Dragon. That makes it the 7th year in a row that solar and wind have combined to lead China in new power capacity additions. At the same time, coal and fossil gas had their worst result in more than a decade.

China’s 96.6 GW of new solar power broke the country record again, as China’s solar power installations did last year. In terms of the country’s total installed power capacity, solar power is up to 15% (462 GWdc/378 GWac). The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report I’m getting these stats from indicate that the country’s renewable energy market has shifted as follows in the past 11 years:

  • “In 2011, renewables made up 26% of 1.1 TW of total capacity.”
  • “In 2022, renewables made up 45% of 2.5 TW of total capacity.”

Looking at how the new solar PV power was distributed, 61% was from distributed (mostly rooftop) solar PV, while 39% was from utility-scale solar PV power plants. This is the second year in a row that China has seen more distributed solar PV installed than utility-scale solar PV, and it is partly in response to bottlenecks in transmission projects for more remote utility-scale solar farms.

In terms of China’s total solar PV capacity at the moment, distributed solar now makes up 40% of that number.

But let’s end with what is perhaps the most stunning fact of all: “The 50 GWac of distributed PV installed in 2022 eclipsed the total renewable energy installed by any other country; about 1 of every 4 modules installed globally in 2022 was on a Chinese rooftop.” (Emphasis added.)

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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