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America's 'oil age' being ceded to China's 'solar age'

Fascinating article in the FT about how America’s ownership of the ‘oil age’ is being ceded to China’s dominance of the ‘solar age’.

It is the huge expansion of output from China’s solar factories which has given us the cheap solar hardware we have now and these low costs will drive the advance of solar electricity across the developed and developing world. The Chinese aren’t making these huge, global investments because they are green evangelists; they are doing it because they realise that solar is the cheapest and quickest way to provide new electricity generation. Even here in the UK, solar can generate electricity for as little as 4p/kWh, for a minimum of 25 years without the risk of price rises.

This part of the report is particularly telling…

Sam Geall, a specialist on low-carbon technology in China at the University of Sussex, said Chinese capital had become a more important driving force behind the expansion in renewable energy capacity around the world than US policy.

The 2015 UN climate agreement in Paris was only possible, he said, because of the rapidly declining cost of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy — a trend he attributed in large part to Chinese investment. Five of the world’s top six solar panel manufacturers are Chinese, as are five of the top 10 wind turbine manufacturers.

“That was the result of smart long-term industrial policy in China and the Trump presidency will not change that,” said Mr Geall. “What it may mean is that, if the US does not support its own renewable industry, it will lose out to China.”

You can read the full FT article here.

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