China's low-carbon electricity on track to be greater than entire U.S. grid in 15 years

Solar panels in China
CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia

Nothing is static. Things keep changing. A few years ago, it seemed like China wasn't doing anything but building more coal plants, only caring about the rate of economic growth. The country isn't a Garden of Eden yet, but since then, environmental issues have become the #1 cause of social unrest in the country, and the air is so polluted in many cities that authorities can't burry their heads in the sand anymore.

This has led to a big push for renewable energy and cleaner sources of power, primarily to help clean the air and make the country less dependent on external sources of fossil fuels. Take a look at this:

Renewable Energy Policy Network/Screen capture

These show the 2013 number. Notice how China, which moved up from #5 to #2 in one year, went from a fairly modest amount of solar and more than doubled it, adding more capacity than any other country? In fact, China almost added as much solar capacity in 2013 as the U.S. had as a whole.

Just last year, China said it wants 70,000 megawatts of solar by 2017, triple what they had at the time.

© BNEF

The graph above shows U.S. and Chinese power grids today, and what they are expected to be in 2030. The blue bars are low-carbon sources, which include hydro and nuclear (there might be other problems with those, but at least they don't spew CO2 and air pollution the way fossil fuels do), and the red bars show new low-carbon sources expected to be built.

The striking thing is that China's low-carbon capacity (old and new) in 2030 is expected to be larger than the whole of the U.S. power grid. Let that sink in. In a few years, China is expected to have built enough low-carbon power sources to power the whole U.S., which raises the question: If China can do it, why isn't the U.S. doing it to have a 100% low-carbon grid (ideally a 100% renewable grid)?

Here's the global solar capacity:

Renewable Energy Policy Network/Screen capture

From just 3.7 gigawatts in 2004 to 138 GW in 2013, and a lot more than that today for sure. This is just another way to see the solar revolution that I keep telling you about.

© SunTech

Via Bloomberg

Tags: Air Pollution | China | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes | Global Warming Solutions

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