China aiming to reach 143 GW PV capacity by 2020

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Anyone thinking that China’s unprecedented solar capacity rise might relax anytime soon should think again, because far from slowing down, the country plans on accelerating PV deployment. Earlier this month, China released its 13th Five-Year Plan that outlined huge investment in the renewables sector, but today the head of the NEA highlighted just how fast the country plans on building up its PV capacity.

Under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon emissions, China is taking a proactive approach to cutting its greenhouse gases. Nowhere is this set out more clearly, than within its admirable solar goal, which is aiming for 143GW of capacity by 2020. Speaking in Beijing on Monday, Nur Bekri, the Director of the NEA, announced that China aims to add 15 to 20 GW of PV power every year until 2020, which would more than triple its current capacity.

To help realize this ambitious expansion, the country will invest $368 BN in ultra-high voltage grids, smart grids and distribution grids in the same time period, which should help to make the transition to renewables smoother.

Unprecedented speed

In a country where solar energy was virtually non-existent as recently as 2011, the growth has been extraordinary. This rise was underlined in 2015, as China, with 43.2 GW capacity, became the country with the most installed solar, taking the title away from long time frontrunner Germany. It also supplied 70% of the global output of solar panels in 2015, producing a staggering 43 GW.

Of course, this huge increase doesn’t come without equally large investment. In 2015, China invested a total of US$101.2 BN in clean energy, which accounted for 15.1 GW of solar being installed; over a quarter of all global solar additions.

The country’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with Leonardo DiCaprio becoming the latest high profile green activist to commend China’s investment in renewables. “I think that China has made radical movements forward as far as alternative energy and ways to be sustainable,” said DiCaprio, while promoting his movie, The Reverant, in Beijing on Monday. “I really think that China can be the hero of the environmental movement, they can be the hero of the climate change movement.”