China now holds the title of the world’s biggest producer of solar energy by capacity, after the country’s installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity doubled in 2016. The country’s photovoltaic capacity rose to 77.42Gigawatt at the end of 2016 with the addition of 34.54 Gigawatt (GW), according to reports from the National Energy Administration (NEA).
Shandong, Xinjiang, Henan were among the provinces that saw the most capacity upsurge, while Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia had the greatest overall capacity at the end of last year, according to the data.
Solar plant generated 66.2 billion kilowatt-hours in 2016, accounting for 1 percent of China’s total power generation. The country has no plans of slowing down, as further plans to add a 110 Gigawatt capacity over the next five years are already in place, according to the NEA’s solar power development plan.
One of China’s solar projects, Longyangxia Dam Solar Farm located in Qinghai province, is one of the largest solar farms in the world. Its construction began in 2013, the site now generates 850 megawatt of power, enough to supply up to 200,000 homes.
Presently, 11% of China’s power comes from renewables and the country aims to increase renewable energy production to 20% of its total energy. China plans to invest 2.5 trillion Yuan ($361 billion) into renewables power generation by 2020.
Despite China being one of the major contributors to carbon pollution in the world, the country has really made an effort in curbing carbon emissions. Chairman of Huanghe Hydropower Development, Xie Xiaoping said: “The development of clean energy is very important if we are to keep the promises made in the Paris Agreement.” The announcement of China’s increased solar capacity follows a series of initiatives to reduce the use of fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy sources.
Nevertheless, China’s pollution problems are far from solved. Air pollution caused by fossil fuels is still an issue, as smog can still be found in many large cities in China and it could be many years before China begins to reduce its carbon net emissions.