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China’s Growing Appetite For Renewables

The Chinese appetite for clean energy has boosted international investments in solar energy, according to a new report by Bloomberg.

Renewables and clean energy innovators won $333.5 billion in investments in 2017 – an increase of three percent from 2016 figures, Bloomberg New Energy Finance figures show. Half of it went to solar projects and 40 percent came from China.

Solar panels and wind turbines get cheaper by the day, thanks to Chinese mass manufacturing. 

“The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology – solar – continue to fall sharply,” said Jon Moore, CEO at BNEF told Bloomberg. “Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25 percent cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier.”

The cheap parts make it easier for developing countries to become investors in solar and wind projects on their home turf. China itself saw investment in clean energy rise by 24 percent in 2016, making it the world’s biggest renewables market.

“China’s boom is still fundamentally irrational,” Jenny Chase at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a note. “The mechanism to collect the subsidies to be paid out has not been determined. However, it looks as if Chinese state-owned developers and investors will build them anyway on the assumption that the government will find a way and, if not, compensation for the power itself will prevent a total loss.”

American investments in renewables totaled $57 billion, putting it in second place worldwide.

At the same time, China is also importing increasing volumes of oil not only because of demand growth, but also because its domestic oil production is declining as large ageing fields mature and as companies cut production from higher-cost fields amid the lower-for-longer oil prices. Thus, Chinese dependence on crude oil imports is continuously rising and is set to further grow in the foreseeable future.

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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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