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China installed a record-high solar power capacity last year, with additions in 2023 alone topping the current capacity of the entire U.S. solar fleet.
China added as much as 216.9 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity in 2023 – a record high, obliterating its previous record of 87.4 GW of solar power additions 2022, according to data from the National Energy Administration cited by Bloomberg.
Per estimates by BloombergNEF, the Chinese additions in 2023 alone were higher than the whole U.S. solar capacity fleet of 175.2 GW.
Last year, China commissioned as much solar PV as the entire world did in 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on renewables earlier this month. Renewable capacity installations globally surged by almost 50% last year as renewable energy capacity hit nearly 510 GW, led by solar PV and a jump in new Chinese installations, the IEA noted.
Last year, China also added 75.9 GW of wind—another record high and much higher than the 37.6 GW added in 2022, according to the Chinese data released today.
In 2023, renewable energy generation capacity in China surpassed 50% of the total—a milestone which China expected to achieve by 2025.
China dominates not only solar power installations globally, but also the solar panel market.
China’s costs for producing solar modules have plummeted by 42% over the past year, which gives Chinese manufacturers a huge cost advantage over the U.S. and European solar equipment producers, Wood Mackenzie said in a report last month.
While China is the world’s largest investor in wind and solar, it is also investing heavily in hydropower and hydrocarbons as it pursues an “all of the above” approach to energy supply.
China continues to rely on coal and coal-fired power generation to meet its growing power demand, and despite being the world's top investor in solar and wind capacity, it also plans a lot of new coal-fired electricity capacity.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com