China added more new solar capacity than thermal capacity for the first time in 2017, and is set to drastically increase its solar installations – even as the Trump administration in the US continues its efforts to “save” the coal industry by slapping heavy penalty tariffs on solar imports.
Newly released data by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) shows that in 2017 some 52.83GW of solar was installed in China – roughly equivalent to the total installed capacity of Australia’s entire grid.
This not only accounted for around half of all global solar installations in 2017, and a 68 per cent jump in its own solar installations, for the first time it exceeded the amount of new coal and gas (thermal) capacity in China, which amounted to 44GW for the year.
China-based analyst Frank Haugwitz, from the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co, says solar in China has now reached 130GW, or 7.3 per cent of total national power generation capacity.
Overall, during 2017, China added in total 133 GW of power generation capacities including e.g. hydro 12.8 GW, thermal power 45.78 GW, and solar PV 52.83 GW.
“Basically for the first time, more clean, green, climate friendly solar PV power generation capacity was added compared to thermal power!” Haugwitz says.
There is also 163GW of wind capacity. Haugwitz predicts that by 2020, China will have installed 250GW of solar capacity.
Meanwhile, in the US, a long awaited announcement on tariffs confirmed that the Trump administration has slapped a penalty on imported solar panels. Analysts say they are intended as barriers to benefit U.S. solar panel manufacturers, but will hurt America’s renewable energy market.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.