why is china pushing hard for renewable energy
China may be the planet's biggest polluter but it's also powering ahead of other countries on renewable energy. As the Trump administration yanks the U. S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, claiming it will hurt the American economy, Beijing is
investing hundreds of billions of dollars and creating millions of jobs in clean power. China has built vast solar and wind farms, helping fuel the growth of major industries that sell their products around the world. "Even in China where coal is -- or was -- king, the government still recognizes that the economic opportunities of the future are going to be in clean energy," said Alvin Lin, Beijing-based climate and energy policy director with the Natural Resources Defense Council. More than 2. 5 million people work in the solar power sector alone in China, in the U. S. , according to the most recent annual report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. While President Trump promises to put American coal miners back to work, China is moving in the opposite direction. Coal still makes up the largest part of China's energy consumption, but Beijing has been shutting coal mines and set out plans last year to cut in the industry. The Chinese government has also moved to restrict the construction of new coal power plants. For the first time ever, China's National Energy Administration in January established a mandatory target to reduce coal energy consumption. It also set a goal for clean energy to meet 20% of China's energy needs by 2030. Analysts expect China to easily meet that target. Greenpeace noted in a earlier this year that the country's clean energy consumption rose to 12% at the end of 2015.
Renewable energy sources account for about, according to official statistics. To help reach the 2030 goal, China is betting big on renewable energy. It pledged in January to invest 2. 5 trillion yuan ($367 billion) in renewable power generation -- solar, wind, hydro and nuclear -- by 2020. The investment will create about 10 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration projects. China currently boasts 3. 5 million jobs in clean energy, by far the most in the world, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. The country has already become a major manufacturer and exporter of renewable energy technology, supplying some two-thirds of the world's solar panels. China also has a strong grip on wind power. It produces nearly half of the world's wind turbines -- at a rate of about two every hour. China's hottest new project is a giant floating solar energy farm located in the eastern province of Anhui. Covering about 100 square miles, it is the largest floating panel facility in the world. It has the capacity to produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes, according to Sungrow Power Supply, the company behind the farm. Fittingly, the solar farm floats atop a flooded area once home to a coal mining factory. The idea to float solar panels is fast catching on in an industry that faces one persistent problem -- space. "The government won't allow us to just install panels wherever we want," says Yao Shaohua, the deputy director of the project. "This lake wouldn't be used otherwise, so it makes sense. " Initially it is more expensive to build solar farms on water than on the land.
But experts say floating solar panels can run more efficiently in the long run, because they are cooled by the water underneath. "The whole world, including China, is recognizing that we need to fight climate change," said Yao. "I'm pretty sure this is going to be a trend. " China's growing dominance in the sector has had a huge effect on the global market. Manufacturers dramatically ramped up production of solar panels, driven by an estimated $42 billion in government subsidized loans between 2010 and 2012, according to the GW Solar Institute at George Washington University. The flood of Chinese panels was one of the main reasons why between 2008 and 2013. The U. S. accused China of flooding the market and the Commerce Department started imposing steep tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels in 2012 in a bid to protect American producers. Just last month, the U. S. informed the World Trade Organization that it may impose tariffs on imports of solar panels from other countries as well, alleging that Chinese companies have opened production facilities in third countries to get around import restrictions. Apple continues to walk the walk when it comes to solarization. Now itБs making a big splash on solar in China in partnership with SunPower. Both are teaming up to build two 20-megawatt solar projects in ChinaБs Sichuan province Б which is a first, although together theyБve built six in America totaling 90 megawatts. Construction is already underway and feeding 2 megawatts back to the grid, but should be finished by the end of 2015. ItБs the latest in a line of joint ventures and manufacturing facilities SunPower has set for China, which itself happens to EarthБs largest renewable energy investor.
Did I mention that Apple is also EarthБs largest company by market value? б б certainly did, when reporting the promising deal. So should we all. In myб б and analysis,б б among the mammoth multinationals walking (or merely talking) the solarization walk. And that was after it gave First Solar $850 million to build solar farms in the so-called homeland. The international dimension of this subsequent team-up with AmericaБs second-largest solar manufacturer makes Apple an international solarizer worth taking as seriously as China itself, which last yearб б installations. БThis is a tremendous groundbreaking collaboration, bringing together a diverse group of experienced partners from different parts of the globe to build renewable solar energy ventures that contribute to the local economy and the environment,Б SunPower CEO Tom Werner said inб. БThese projects will provide clean, renewable energy, help address climate change, and continue to provide agricultural benefits to the local farmers, while protecting the areaБs precious land. We continue to value our partnership with Apple and commend them for their global environmental commitment. Б ItБs a commitment to solarization that should be emulated by everyone, unlike the polarization that characterizesб. As oil continues to decouple from the U. S. economy, which is adding solar jobs at 10 times the national average, these international agreements for the future good should become less rare. Evidently, weб can б all just get along.
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