Renewable Energy: China in the lead

Ekaterina Volozova

BEIJING—(October 14, 2010, m4relay)– As renewable energy develops rapidly in China creating new opportunities for economic development, China has become one of the World’s leaders in producing wind turbines, leaving many Western countries like Denmark, Germany and Spain behind in the chase, reported New York Times.

The country is now the World’s largest producer of solar panels, and wind turbine production is also developing rapidly. Some analysts say that in the future many Western countries will become dependent on China for renewable energy as many countries were for oil in the Middle East.

Some of China’s largest panel producers include companies like Suntech Power Holdings Co., Yingli, and Trina Solar Ltd. Currently; these companies are the World’s leaders in the Solar Panel business, according to Forbes magazine.

In 2007, about 17 percent of China’s electricity came from renewable sources, and was led by the world’s highest number of hydroelectric generators. Three years ago, the amount of installations of hydropower added up to 145,000 MW. The goal for 2010 is 190,000 MW.

China has over 400 photovoltaic (solar energy production) companies and produces about 23% of the photovoltaic products worldwide. Over the past six years China’s manufacturers grabbed 43 percent of the global photovoltaic-panel market, pricing products as much as 20 percent cheaper than in Europe, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

According to Forbes magazine, China has about one quarter of the World’s solar panel production capacity, and Chinese companies are currently rapidly gaining market shares, especially in Europe. This is mainly because of driving down prices using their low-cost, large-scale factories.

Over the past few years, Chinese companies have done a lot of work in order to ensure that the price of solar panels goes down around the World, making it easier to purchase them in China rather than for companies to produce them and sell them in their own countries.

“The ability of the Chinese to manufacture at large scale is a very big reason why the cost of these panels has come down,” said Kathleen A. McGinty at venture capital firm Element Partners in Radnor, Pennsylvania, in a Bloomberg Business Week report. The development of renewable technology has increased the amount of investments, and is now part of China’s economic stimulus plan.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Chinese solar panels make up about 40 percent of the California market, which is the largest in the United States, as well as most of the European markets.

“More and more consumers in the United States can expect the solar modules placed on their rooftops to be coming from Chinese manufacturers,” said Shyam Mehta, a senior market analyst at GTM in a report.

The biggest consumer of photovoltaic electricity and solar panel use, at the moment is Germany, followed by Japan. Solar cell production has been doubling every two years.

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