China killed it on the solar energy scales last year
With the New Year comes awards season, accompanied by chorus of incredulity (La-La Land got HOW many nominations?!). But the real shocker was the recipient of one of the world’s most virtuous accolades – the biggest producer of solar energy – which this year went to China.
The country is often associated with heavy-set smog and civilians cloaked in medical masks, but is in fact responsible for the biggest output of solar energy in the world. The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has released its stats on solar energy production, revealing that production doubled in 2016, reaching a gargantuan 77.42 gigawatts by the end of the year.
Lest we prematurely rejoice, it should be noted that solar energy only makes up a minute portion of the country’s energy output – a meagre one percent. Similarly, in terms of population relativity, countries such as Germany, Japan and the US produce far more solar energy per citizen, a caveat which shouldn’t be overlooked given China’s astronomical population.
Nonetheless, it’s a meaningful step in the right direction. The NEA plans to add over 110 gigawatts by 2020, with the end goal of increasing China’s use of non-fossil fuel power from 11 percent to 20 percent by 2030. The country has pledged to invest an enormous 2.5 trillion yuan (£290 billion) towards developing renewable energy generation by 2020. Meanwhile, other countries may not be able to compete on a similar scale, not least of all because China houses vast swathes of landscape that are meteorologically prime for solar energy production. Amongst these, provinces Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia were responsible for the highest solar energy output for 2016, whilst Shandong, Xinjiang, Henan exhibited the highest increase in production.
The move towards cleaner energy couldn’t have come at a better time, given the need to counteract the impending damage that President Trump looks set to inflict on our ever-ascending climate. One only need look at the incumbent Secretary of State to gauge the ethos of the current US political administration. Meanwhile, for a more entertaining – if more unhinged – insight into bleak times ahead, just consider The Donald’s tweets on the subject…