A bright, shining ambition: Chinese solar development off to rapid start in 2023
- June 1, 2023: Vol. 10, Number 6

A bright, shining ambition: Chinese solar development off to rapid start in 2023

by McAlinden Research Partners

Chinese clean energy investments continued to outstrip the United States and Europe’s combined spend in 2022, pushing total solar deployment in Asia's largest economy close to 400 gigawatts (GW). China has already surpassed that milestone in the new year, with the first two months of 2023’s buildout of solar capacity running at a much faster clip than in the same period a year ago. China is keen to improve renewable power generation domestically and continues to look toward Africa to expand development abroad.

Per Scientific American, China spent $546 billion on clean energy investments in 2022 aimed at further development of solar and wind energy, electric vehicles, and batteries. That is nearly four times the amount of U.S. investments, which totaled $141 billion. The European Union spent $180 billion in clean energy investments over the same period. The world’s leading solar power generator brought 87.41 GW of new solar power into operation in 2022, official data showed, driving the total installed capacity to 392.61 GW.

China added more than 51 GW from small-scale solar power during 2022. About 40 percent of its total solar capacity now comes from rooftops and backyards. Bloomberg reports that roughly one of every five solar panels installed worldwide in 2022 was fixed atop a Chinese home or business.

In the initial two months of this year, Taiyang News notes that 20.37 GW of installed solar capacity has been added in China, representing an increase of more than 87 percent over 10.86 GW deployed in the same period a year ago. According to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, China is expected to install between 95 GW to 120 GW of new PV capacity in 2023.

These monthly and annual numbers are significant, but each is only a moderate step toward president Xi Jinping’s pledge to scale Chinese wind and solar capacity to at least 1,200 GW by 2030. That deployment will be most heavily concentrated in China’s Gobi Desert and similar arid regions, where the National Development and Reform Commission claims 450 GW of solar and wind generation can be rolled out.

China also plans to use bodies of water to expand their renewable power investments. Last year, Huaneng Power International completed the world’s largest floating PV project, a 320 megawatt (MW) facility in China’s Shandong province. India has recently laid out plans to nearly double that size with a 600 MW floating facility in Madhya Pradesh but, not to be outdone, China may be ready to go even bigger. Reuters reports China Energy Engineering Corp. has recently proposed the construction of a 1,000 MW floating solar plant on Zimbabwe’s Kariba dam at a cost of nearly $1 billion. China’s ambitions in Africa have helped it implement hundreds of clean energy, green development projects in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, the Central Africa Republic, and beyond.

According to People’s Bank of China, the country’s outstanding green loans have now reached $290.7 billion. Per Reuters, that represents 10 percent of the country’s total loan balance.


This article was reported and written by McAlinden Research Partners, which can be assessed here.

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