How China Came to Dominate the World in Solar Energy

China unleashed the full might of its solar energy industry last year. It installed more solar panels than the United States has in its history. It cut the wholesale price of panels it sells by nearly half. And its exports of fully assembled solar panels climbed 38 percent while its exports of key components almost doubled.

Get ready for an even bigger display of China’s solar energy dominance.

While the United States and Europe are trying to revive renewable energy production and help companies fend off bankruptcy, China is racing far ahead.

At the annual session of China’s legislature this week, Premier Li Qiang, the country’s second-highest official after Xi Jinping, announced that the country would accelerate the construction of solar panel farms as well as wind and hydroelectric projects.

With China’s economy stumbling, the ramped-up spending on renewable energy, mainly solar, is a cornerstone of a big bet on emerging technologies. China’s leaders say that a “new trio” of industries — solar panels, electric cars and lithium batteries — has replaced an “old trio” of clothing, furniture and appliances.

The goal is to help offset a steep slump in China’s housing construction sector. China hopes to harness emerging industries like solar power, which Mr. Xi likes to describe as “new productive forces,” to re-energize an economy that has slowed for more than a decade.

The emphasis on solar power is the latest installment in a two-decade program to make China less dependent on energy imports.

Back to top button