Is It Possible for Solar Energy to Compete with Coal-Fired Electricity in China?

China’s energy policies may, at first, seem paradoxical: it is shooting for the stars and it is working to have renewable energy start replacing coal-fired electricity. That’s a hard task in a country where coal is now 60% of its electricity base and renewables are 20% — and poised to be 35% in 2030. Its goal is to clean its cities and to comply with the Paris climate agreement. In its latest five-year plan that outlines its energy goals, China has set a cap on on coal-fired generation at about 1,100 gigawatts — a hard task, given that it already has about 1,000 GW with another 250 GW under construction. When China formed a five-year plan in 2015, its solar producers over-performed and thus created a multi-billion deficit in the program set up to encourage such manufacturing. The removal of the subsidy last June is resulting in higher local prices that will hurt domestic installations. As a result, though, Chinese producers are looking to make up ground in oversea’s markets where the increased competition results in better solar panels at cheaper prices. For China, its ultimate goal is to have wind and solar compete with coal without the benefit of government subsidies, all by 2024. China’s developing economy means that coal will continue to play a key role there. And while the government can no longer afford to subsidize its domestic solar makers, the good news is that may not have to do so, given that the country’s rollout of solar energy has surpassed all expectations. Forbes