China Outstrips Germany in Solar Capacity After Record Additions

  • Country added 15.1 gigawatts of solar capacity last year
  • Solar power capacity has surged almost 13-fold since 2011

China, the world’s largest consumer of energy, surpassed Germany as the country with the most installed solar capacity after record additions last year.

The nation added 15.1 gigawatts of new solar last year, bringing the total to 43.2 gigawatts, the National Energy Administration said Friday on its website. That’s equal to more than a quarter of global additions and a third of the nation’s solar-panel production, the NEA said.

China’s solar capacity has surged almost 13-fold since 2011, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Germany had 38.4 gigawatts of power supply from the sun at the end of 2015, while the U.S. had 27.8 gigawatts, according to BNEF.

The world’s biggest emitter of global-warming pollution wants to develop solar energy as a means to help meet its pledges to cut emissions. Additionally, a more robust domestic market is helping China, the world’s biggest supplier of solar panels, downplay its reliance on the export market.

The northwestern region of Xinjiang led the effort last year to install new solar capacity, following by Inner Mongolia and Jiangsu.

The capacity expansion hasn’t been matched by an increase in generation, as some panels are not producing after the rush of building projects. About 31 percent of photovoltaic power generation sat unused last year in the northwestern province of Gansu, while the rate was 26 percent in Xinjiang, according to the NEA.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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