Faced with the on-going nuclear crisis in Japan — the costs of which could make the March earthquake and subsequent tsnuami the most expensive natural disaster the world has ever seen — nearby China may be moving to double its target for solar photovoltaic (PV) power capacity over the next five years.
Citing unnamed sources, China Securities Journal today reported that the country’s solar target might be raised to 10 gigawatts (GW) of PV by 2015, up from the current target of 5 GW. For comparison, global solar PV capacity was about 40 GW in 2010.
This news comes after a report released yesterday found that, in terms of clean energy investment, the United States has slipped to third place behind China and Germany.
Put out by the Pew Charitable Trusts and titled, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?,” the report offers some additional insights beyond “the U.S. is losing”:
- Worldwide clean energy investment and finance has grown 630 per cent since 2004.
- Regionally, Europe remained the leading recipient, attracting $94.4 billion, led by Germany ($41.2 billion) and Italy ($13.9 billion).
- Italy ranked fourth, attracting $13.9 billion. It is the first country in the world to achieve grid parity, or cost-competitiveness, for solar energy.
- The Asia/Oceania region, led by China, continued its sharp rise, attracting $82.8 billion, a 33 per cent increase over the previous year.
- The Americas also saw investment grow 35 per cent, but as a region it remains a distant third, attracting $65.8 billion.
- Investments in small-scale, residential solar in G-20 countries grew by 100 per cent to $56.4 billion. Germany accounts for more than half the total, followed by Japan, France, Italy and the United States.
- Installed generating capacity increased to 388 gigawatts from wind, small-hydro, biomass, solar, geothermal and marine, with China accounting for more than 25 per cent of the global total
It’s worth noting that China is the world’s biggest exporter of solar panels, and is home to such solar-panel-making powerhouses as Suntech Power, JA Solar, Trina Solar and LDK Solar. Assuming that these companies continue to hold a decent share of China’s internal market, a new solar PV target of 10 GW would help advance China’s energy independence goals.
It’s also worth noting that the U.S. held the number one spot until 2008, when it was eclipsed by Germany.