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Nation on track to hit solar, wind power goals

By ZHENG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-05 09:40
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An employee works on a production line at Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, in December 2022. TANG DEHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China is on course to achieve its wind and solar power targets despite global economic uncertainties, and is poised to install more than 200 million kilowatts of new solar and wind capacity in 2024, six years ahead of the initial plan, according to a think tank.

In the first half of last year, China's installed capacity of renewable energy surpassed that of coal for the first time, indicating a change in the country's energy structure. The installed capacity of renewable energy continued to grow in the second half of 2023, accounting for about half of the total installed capacity in the country.

Such efforts are contributing to the country's green growth by providing affordable and eco-friendly sustainable energy, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research of Beijing Institute of Technology said in a report released recently.

The innovation prowess of Chinese new energy companies continues to surge, while industry experts anticipate a sustained improvement in efficiency throughout the year, according to the Forecasting & Prospects Research Report on Energy Economy released by the institute.

Longi Green Energy Technology Co Ltd, a leading enterprise in the photovoltaic industry in China, broke the world record in November with a new conversion efficiency of 33.9 percent for silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells, a crucial indicator and benchmark for evaluating the potential of photovoltaic technologies.

Improved cell conversion efficiency and reduced electricity costs are considered the drivers behind the development of the photovoltaic industry.

According to Jiang Hua, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, cost reduction and efficiency improvement are at the core of the photovoltaic industry, which is cost-driven. Continuous enhancement of the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells is an effective measure to reduce the overall cost of photovoltaic power generation.

Once this high-efficiency cell technology is truly put into mass production, it will lead to a significant reduction in the cost of photovoltaic power generation, which will be extremely beneficial to driving the growth of the photovoltaic market in China and globally, he said.

Enormous investments have gone into not only expanding production capacity, but also fueling research and development efforts and promoting new technology in recent years. Throughout 2023, a large number of new technologies have been integrated into production processes, it said.

In addition to Longi, Chinese photovoltaic manufacturing firm GCL Technology Holdings Ltd also made substantial investments in the expansion of its granular silicon production capacity last year, with better cost-effectiveness and consistency.

According to Yu Biying, a professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, solar power has been emerging as a crucial driver in the high-quality development of China's economy.

Solar cells, together with lithiumion batteries and new energy vehicles, have become the new top drivers of China's exports, replacing traditional items such as apparel, home appliances and furniture, amid the nation's pursuit of high-quality and low-carbon development.

China's technological advantages in manufacturing quality electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and solar batteries, coupled with the growing global demand for low-carbon products, has made the country an important supplier for many economies, she said.

Green exports will remain a strong engine for high-quality growth, thanks to a nurturing policy environment and continued investment, she added.

Projections for 2024 suggest a continual uptick in investments in the renewable energy sector, defying the overall subdued global economic prospects, while an increasing number of Chinese enterprises are expected to strategically invest in overseas plants, fortifying the nation's global position in the renewable energy sector and overcoming international trade barriers, according to the report.

Currently commanding over 50 percent of the global market share in wind power equipment production and more than 80 percent in photovoltaic components, China's renewable energy industry is benefiting from strengthening international competitiveness. A wave of energy equipment and manufacturing enterprises are at the forefront, transitioning from scale expansion to a phase of quality enhancement, it added.

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