Firing Up China's Solar Market

As panel prices fall, Chinese manufacturers are boosting domestic sales
Illustration by Kiji McCafferty

China’s solar panel industry has become the world’s biggest thanks to a simple formula: Produce in China, sell in Europe. Benefiting from generous financial backing at home—which the U.S. Department of Energy says amounted to $30 billion in state support in 2010—Chinese manufacturers have spent years boosting capacity. Since the domestic market for buying and installing solar power systems was tiny, the Chinese focused on exports, especially to Germany and other European countries where subsidies helped fuel demand for panels.

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