Most of China's solar panels are made for export markets.
Aggressive price competition helps consumers, stymies California industry
There’s a trade war brewing with China over solar panels and California is right in the middle.
China is the world’s biggest producer of solar panels, and yet very few are installed there domestically.
We’re in the headquarters of the world’s largest maker of solar panels, Suntech Power, in the city of Wuxi.
But now China’s central government has launched a major initiative to jumpstart its own use of solar energy.
This year alone, China will have installed about 5 gigawatts of capacity, producing enough electricity to supply two million Chinese.
Although China’s build-out barely puts a dent in its carbon footprint — the biggest in the world — Chinese solar companies and environmentalists are encouraged.
“It took China a while to bring its solar program up to speed,” says Andrew Beebe, a Suntech executive based in San Francisco.
China’s feed-in tariff is actually mimicking similar programs in Europe and the U.S. to promote wind and solar power.
When China became net importer coal, “That surprised everybody,” says Yang Fuqiang, an energy expert in NRDC’s Beijing office.
Yang says to offset this dependence on coal, both domestic and foreign, China wants to diversify its energy mix.
China’s Ambitious Plans for Renewables
So the central government has set an ambitious goal: to produce more than 11 percent of China’s energy from non-fossil fuels by the end of the decade.