Solar Energy's Future Shines Brightest in China

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"China's market for green technology could reach $1 trillion annually. . ."

After announcing that it intends to build the world's largest solar power plant, China is rapidly evolving into the world's largest solar energy market. With heavy government backing, Chinese solar companies are quickly becoming global leaders.

Fast-growing industry and a reliance on coal-fired power plants turned China into the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gas a few years ago. Smog clouds far thicker than that of Los Angeles hang over many of its cities and much of the water is densely polluted. But that's something the central government aims to change.

China plans to reduce energy consumption per unit of its GDP by 20% of 2005 levels by the end of 2010. It's more immediate goal is to reduce reliance on coal-fired plants to 60% of its energy production from 70%, and replace with renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Since 2007, about 54 gigawatts—~7% of the nation's electricity-generating capacity—of coal and oil-fired power plants have been closed down as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Alternative energy sources, including wind, solar, and hydropower, are in line to replace fossil fuels. China's market for green technology could reach $1 trillion annually, or about 15% of the country's forecast 2013 GDP, according to a report by the China Greentech Initiative and the American Chamber of Commerce.

Already solar companies in China are benefiting from the government's push for clean technology. China plans to install more than 500 milliwatts of solar pilot projects in two to three years.

"Given the nascent nature of China's solar domestic market, this 500 mW program, though not huge, sends a strong signal that China is serious about developing its domestic solar market, and will undoubtedly stimulate more activity in domestic deployment by enterprises outside of the subsidy program," Julian Wong, a senior policy analyst with the Center for American Progress, told the People's Daily.

Chinese solar companies aren't just benefiting from the growing local market; many are now building factories in the U.S. to bypass protectionist legislation. They're also encouraging executives to join industry trade groups to squelch any anti-Chinese sentiment.

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