China leads world in new solar capacity

China installed more solar panels in 2023 than any other nation has ever built in total

Data released by China’s National Energy Agency last week revealed that the country’s solar electric power generation capacity grew by a staggering 55.2 percent in 2023. The numbers highlight that over 216.9 gigawatts (GW) of solar power China built during the year, shattering its previous record of 87.4 gigawatts from 2022.

Not only does this achievement solidify China’s position as a renewable energy powerhouse but also eclipses the entire solar fleet of the United States, the world’s second-largest solar market.

When the Asian superpower set its energy targets in 2020, aiming to achieve peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, most dubbed it ambitious. To support these “ambitious” goals, the government committed to constructing 1,200 GW of renewable capacity by 2030.

China is now positioned as a key player in combating climate change, also putting the world on track to meet targets set at the COP28 climate summit.

China is now on track to achieve this target a remarkable five years ahead of schedule. The monumental increase in solar power is further complemented by a 20.7 percent rise in wind power generation capacity, showcasing the country’s commitment to clean energy.

China also added 75.9 gigawatts of wind power, another record-breaking achievement, to its solar-heavy portfolio. According to the International Energy Agency, the adoption of renewables reached a globally combined record of 510 gigawatts last year.

Despite the remarkable strides in renewables China continues to grapple with the challenges posed by its reliance on coal-fired power stations. Although China has assured that coal consumption will decline from 2025, officials argue that new coal plants are necessary to serve as backup for intermittent solar and wind generation.

Estimates suggest that China likely account for 58 percent of global solar installations and an even more impressive 60 percent of global wind installations in 2023, positioning China as a key player in combating climate change, but also putting the world on track to meet targets set at the COP28 climate summit.

Source: Interesting Engineering, Jan 26, 2024.