China Dominates Solar Energy Industry

Solar panels | Image by Daniel Bosma/Getty Images

China’s commitment to solar energy production is staggering, surpassing the rest of the world in non-fossil fuel energy production and out-spending other economic powers in the industry by a factor of four.

The scale of China’s production is immense, with the country manufacturing 80% of the world’s solar panels, 60% of electric vehicles, and over 80% of batteries for electric vehicles. China also has a near monopoly on certain rare earth materials as it produces 60% and processes an estimated 90% of some of the rarest minerals on earth, such as cobalt and lithium. These minerals are necessary to build renewable energy infrastructure, according to Oilprice.com.

Premier Li Qiang, the country’s second-highest official, announced at the annual session of China’s legislature that the communist government will accelerate the construction of solar panel farms and other renewable energy projects, such as wind and hydroelectric power, per The New York Times.

China aims to help offset the economic slump in the country’s housing construction sector by harnessing growing industries like solar panels, electric cars, and lithium batteries to help revitalize the slow economy that China has faced for more than a decade, per the NYT.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, China’s economy has been sluggish, with factory output and exports performing below normal levels. Additionally, China has been accused of using private hackers to gain access to private information and infect U.S. infrastructure technology with malware.

The rapid growth of China’s solar industry has triggered responses from the United States and Europe. The Biden administration has made spending taxpayer money on the sector a priority, supporting the cost of producing and installing solar panels with subsidies and incentives alongside mandates to curb the fossil fuel industry. Europe, in particular, has been greatly affected. China’s subsidization of factories to produce solar panels, in contrast to Europe’s subsidization of panel purchases, has led to a significant decline in Europe’s solar industry.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in her State of the Union, “We have not forgotten how China’s unfair trade practices affected our solar industry — many young businesses were pushed out by heavily subsidized Chinese competitors,” per the NYT.

China’s cost advantage makes comparable competition challenging for the United States and Europe.

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