A new study reveals that in many cities solar energy in China is cheaper than electricity provided by the national service, and also competes with that of coal in 75 cities.
This is not a few cases: there are 344 cities in China where solar energy costs less than that of the grid. There is one to tell us rigorous research published in Nature Energy, and according to its authors, it should act as a stimulus for greater investments in renewable energy.
China has indeed made great strides in developing solar projects, and the effort seems immense in the wider field of renewables. In the 2017-2020 three-year period only, the Celestial Empire will end up spending something like 370 billion euros on energy from sun, water and wind.
The first author of the study, Jinyue Yan of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, is a profound connoisseur of Chinese economic activities. He did not stop at the comparison with the costs of the national electricity grid, but he wanted to evaluate whether the Solar in China could undermine the first enemy of the environment, coal.
With a certain dose of surprise, therefore, he discovered that in 22% of cases the Chinese energy produced by the sun is already cheaper even than coal.
The political effort of these years, with the restrictions on the opening of new coal plants and the closure of some mines, is beginning to bear fruit.
There is still much to be done on Chinese coal, however. According to Reuters China still depends on coal for 59% of its needs, it is an exorbitant percentage.
The researchers therefore see a highly renewable future for China. "The government will help accelerate the solar phenomenon," the study continues, "Because it mitigates air pollution and places the nation on top of the leaders in renewables. The massive adoption in both the commercial and civil sectors will drive the drop in prices across the planet thanks to the economy of scale. "
To infinity and beyond
Knowing the Asian titanics neither their growth nor their ambition surprises me. The projects under study include a much wider use of solar even than expected in this study.
Even among China's solar energy plans is that of solar power plants in space, each capable of sending enough energy to Earth to power a city like Beijing.
The Chinese Aerospace Agency hopes to launch the first one by 2050 (according to a government statement, so take this news a bit like that).
More solidity (also because it's already over) has the construction of the largest solar farm in the world in Morocco, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex. There the Chinese have covered an area of over 3000 hectares, 3500 soccer fields full of solar panels. Twice what it takes to feed Marrakesh.
A roll is not spring
(What a horrible cliché joke, but it's done now). Of course, the future will also be the arithmetic mean between opportunities and risks for Chinese solar power. One that worries a lot is related to the waste produced by the solar industry: China alone it will produce 20 million tons of panels by 2050.
Where will we put the used ones? Someone has already experimented with not very pleasant solutions: several producers have faced bitter protests from communities literally submerged by waste.
Note, for example, the apologies that Jinko Solar Holding Co made to the population of inhabitants in the area of its factories, after violent protests against the monstrous pollution produced by the production of solar panels. Residues of material also ended up polluting a nearby river, killing almost all the fauna.