Solar Power

Published on Author hinklee17

Air PollutionIn China, air pollution is killing millions of individuals each year. According to a recent study, air pollution contributes to 1.6 million deaths each year, roughly 17 percent of all deaths in China. In order to combat this lethal air pollution, China is starting to use more renewable energy resources as opposed to fossil fuels such as coal or gas.

The use of solar power, in particular, has dramatically increased in the recent years. As part of China’s Five Year Plan, the government called for a specific amount solar panels to be installed in the next few years. More specifically, China plans to increase its solar power capacity by more than 21 percent in 2016. The industry is using low-cost government Solar Power (Plant)loans to expand solar panel production, which has prompted a significant decrease in solar prices. Consequently, China is purchasing its own panels; about a third of its total solar module output went to solar panel farms in 2015. In addition to government funding, China has raised surcharges on electricity bills by about 27 percent to promote and subsidize future renewable energy projects. As a result, China is dominating the global solar economy with more than 43,180 megawatts recorded in 2015.

China’s slowing real estate industry is taking advantage of this transitionSolar Power (Building) to increase occupancy. For instance, landlords are installing solar panels on rooftops and constructing “green walls” in various rooms. Ultimately, these landlords hope to differentiate themselves from competition in this oversupplied and undervalued market by reducing energy costs and improving air quality.


Click to access China-Air-Quality-Paper-July-2015.pdf

9 Responses to Solar Power

  1. Solar power has certainly become a more attractive renewable energy source as the underlying technology has improved, but there are still questions of its viability, especially on such a large scale. For China to effectively cut into its greenhouse gas emissions with solar power, it will have to subsidize the industry to a massive extent. Perhaps a more viable option would be the transition to an energy source such as natural gas. This source is many times better for the environment than coal is, and seems to be more developed than the solar power scene. A transition to renewable sources will eventually be necessary, but to assign it to a “Five Year Plan” seems a bit unrealistic.

  2. Looking at how arduous the process of making the US greener has been, how long will it be until we see actual impact on environmental health in China where pollution greatly outweighs that of the US? I agree with Zach when saying that the “Five Year Plan” is unrealistic. The only way I really see it working is strict government regulation, subsidizing companies for using solar panels and tax breaks for people who add them to the sides of their houses. Still, solar panels would have to be places strategically around China as to not be rendered useless by the clouds of smog that block out the sun.

    • A joint plan of alternative energy subsidies and high taxes on firms’ carbon emissions may be necessary to see real change. Finding the right balance between the marginal damage function and firms’ marginal abatement costs should prove effective in reducing pollution to the necessary extent. With such high resultant mortality rates and the declining workforce, positive change must occur going forward for the economy to continue to grow. Another idea is that as China’s economy develops, the government should incentivize, or even mandate, new companies to use solely alternative forms of energy.

  3. Every time when Chinese government have “xx years plan”, it seems so unrealistic and amazing in the same time. It reminds me back in the days of “the Great Leap Forward” era. However, comparing to the GLF, basically the cult of personality, Chinese now actually would try everything to meet their plans. It has been a huge progress. However, the problem will be, first, change in leader results in change in policy. Although there’s only one political party in China, there are still different forces. Besides that, even just change of a mayor will result in change of methods and political beliefs. Therefore, when making plans over 5 years, it might not be consistent since by then, the term of the old policy makers will be expired. Also, the bureaucracy and corruption in Chinese government are really severe. Just like what we read in the Hessler book, when the higher rank officer have an idea, the lower ranked will do everything to finish the task, however, that doesn’t necessarily have the same effect as the idea is originally planned. A closer example will be the real estate industry mentioned by the blogger. When governors want to boost GDP, they just tear down the old houses and build new buildings. And now, they have built so much that there’s not enough people to live in those houses. Will the solar system be another case of this? Will these huge amounts of solar panels turn into totally useless irons when new policies come out?

  4. Before the drop in oil and other commodity prices, many predicted that such a crash would have been devastating to renewable energy firms. However, this has not been the case. Some countries such as China took advantage of this drop in price to increase taxes which lowered demand relative to what it would have been. Additionally, when prices do begin to increase again these taxes will remain and continue to lower demand. The process of shifting to renewable energy will be a slow process, and cannot be looked at as something that is achievable in a few years.

  5. I wonder how much of this solar panel plan is simply a band-aid on more significant pollution issues. Surely these panels will be able to create electricity for houses/buildings. But the main culprit for pollution in China is factories and the burning of fossil fuels. Are solar panels enough to make China’s air significantly less deadly? And is this a uniform occurrence that will happen throughout the entire country, rather than being located in certain “green” cities/areas,

  6. I among with the other commenters find China’s boasted claim that they will reduce carbon emission by 60% by 2020 to be a bit unrealistic. The statistics, which the Chinese government released at the beginning of the month, make me question whether they are fabrications or whether China is signaling to the rest of the world that they are committed to leading an initiative against the controversial international issue of global warming. In 2015, China set a global record with wind installation of 32.5 gigawatts and increased solar capacity by 74%. While it appears that China is on track to become a more clean nation, it is hard to believe that they will achieve this at their published goal.

  7. China has the largest capacity for making solar panels of any country, headed by a couple engineers who returned home with fat bank accounts after distinguished careers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. The biggest crashed and burned, but the benefit of bankruptcy is that the company remains, the debt disappears. So there’s a lot more substance to this than might at first seem to be the case. The technologies for linking intermittent generation to electric grids is better, too, as are the analytics to allow “base capacity” generation to be adjusted to take advantage of sunny weather. So it doesn’t have to be a huge share to have an environmental impact if it allows coal to not be burned during peak photochemical-smog-inducing times of day.

    The Five Year Plan may be mostly indicative, but it doesn’t mean it’s empty of content. Consistent with that, a post on argues that Big solar is heading for boom times in the US. It argues that “photovoltaic has gotten so cheap so fast” that large-scale generating installations (not the home rooftop stuff) are booming. There are now thousands of such, taking solar from 0.0% of power in 2007 to 0.6% today; over half was added during 2013-2015, and enough is under construction to double that by end-2016. Today solar pays from a purely commercial perspective; 10 years ago it existed only in subsidized demo projects. Not everywhere, but parts of the Southwest have 300 or more cloud-free days a year. China has a lot of similar terrain.

    So, how about wind power? That’s now commercially viable in the US, too.

    • Similarly, China has emerged as the global wind power leader. In 2015, China’s wind power market grew twenty-seven percent, surpassing the European Union for the first time. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), China installed “half of all new wind capacity worldwide last year.” In terms of gigawatts (GW), a unit of electric power equal to one billion watts, China added 30.5 GW in 2015, which yields 145.1 total gigawatts. Looking forward, China aims to attain 200 GW by 2020. China also needs to consider the actual output of these turbines. An industrial wind facility operates turbines that only produce one-third of the rated output. Consequently, according to the Wall Street Journal, “no one-third efficient source of energy can be useful to the electric grid, no matter its source.” Despite these claims, researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University found that China will fulfill their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.