By Guan Kejiang
Newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is expected to reach 375 gigawatts globally in 2023, growing 31.8 percent year on year, said an annual report recently issued by the International Energy Agency.
China’s solar PV installations last year equaled to the world’s total in 2022. Demetrios Papathanasiou, global director for the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice, believes that developing the solar PV industry is crucial for addressing climate change and promoting energy transition.
At the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) held last year, the development of solar energy was one of the key topics discussed.
The agreement reached at the COP28 for the first time acknowledged the decreasing costs and technological innovations in solar energy, wind energy, and energy storage, recognizing their potential in achieving climate goals. It called on countries to transition away from fossil fuels in a just, orderly, and fair manner within the energy system.
In recent years, the global PV industry has been experiencing rapid growth. According to relevant statistics, the average annual growth of PV installations worldwide reached 28 percent from 2019 to 2023.
Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie said that solar energy has become the most cost-competitive energy source in most countries. The PV industry is expected to maintain a high growth rate over the next decade.
Former Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mohan Munasinghe, noted that sustainable development is a crucial challenge for human society. The continuous innovation and growing advantages of solar PV technology provide developing countries with options for achieving economic sustainability, transitioning to clean energy, and protecting the environment.
The Francisco Pizarro PV plant in Extremadura, Spain, began operation in 2022 and is one of the largest operational PV power stations in Europe. All the solar panels used in this plant were sourced from China.
In Garissa County, Kenya, the Garissa solar power plant constructed by a Chinese company, has effectively addressed the issue of electricity shortage in the local area, providing continuous clean electricity to local residents.
In recent years, the Bank of China (BOC) has been involved in various solar power projects, such as the Al Dhafra PV2 solar project in the United Arab Emirates and the 300 MW Sakaka solar PV project in Saudi Arabia. Last year, the bank issued a $500 million green bond with a focus on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Pan Xinyuan, general manager of Bank of China Dubai Branch, said that China, as the world’s largest producer of solar components, has a leading advantage in solar project construction. Chinese banks, as a bridge connecting production capacity and market demand, can play a positive role in promoting global energy transformation.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, noted that China has achieved remarkable success in the development of clean energy, such as solar and wind power, as well as the electric vehicle industry, making it a champion in the field of clean energy.
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates and president-designate of the COP28, emphasized that China’s continuous leadership in clean energy technology is a crucial factor in facilitating global energy transition, addressing climate change, and promoting development.
Xiao Jinyu, deputy director-general of Economic and Technology Research Institute, Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, said in an interview with People’s Daily that China has elevated the acceleration of renewable energy development to a level of ensuring national energy security and strengthening ecological progress, achieving rapid progress in a short period of time.
It is exactly because of China’s vigorous development of renewable energy that the cost of solar power generation has decreased by nearly 90 percent globally in recent years, and wind power cost by 80 percent.
Ahmed Mohamed Mohina, vice minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy of Egypt, said that the Chinese solution is of great significance to global energy transition and climate governance. It provides feasible solutions for African and Arab countries to promote energy transition, stimulate economic development, and improve ecological environment.
Erik Solheim, vice president of the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition and former UN under-secretary-general, noted that China has made significant contributions to the global development of renewable energy. It has also provided innovative driving forces for the economic development and green and low-carbon transformation of developing countries.