They are both taking huge technological and economic steps to reduce their environmental impact.
The Paris Climate Conference (COP21) was hailed as a turning point in humanity’s engagement and governance of climate change.
The agreement’s headline aim was to set out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global climate change below a 2°C limit. 195 countries signed the agreement, legally binding them into this global commitment.
The agreement also focused on encouraging investment in adaptation and mitigation measures relating to climate change. The deal is likely to require trillions of dollars of capital to be invested in technology, education and infrastructure, if there is to be any chance of not breaching the 2°C threshold.
One area that has seen huge amounts of initial investment is the renewable sector, specifically in relation to solar technologies. Solar is seen as beneficial owing to its sustainability, and utilisation of a renewable energy source. Costs of the technology are decreasing, maintenance requirements are low, and photovoltaics can be installed in obscure and relatively small spaces (i.e. roofs).
Two countries leading this initial investment in solar are China and India. Although both are known for their high levels of green-house gas emissions, they are taking huge technological and economic steps to reduce their environmental impact.
Solar power plants in China generated 66.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy in 2016, amounting to 1% of the country’s total power generation. Currently non-fossil fuel sources account for 11% of total generated power.
Although these figures may seem relatively underwhelming, China has exciting propositions for its future. It has announced plans to target 20% renewable energy use by 2030, with more than 110 gigawatts of capacity being developed over the next three years.
A signifier of this future has been China’s construction of the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park. The 27-square-kilometre solar farm was built at a cost of £731.3m, with initial development starting in 2013. The farm has the capacity to produce an astounding 850MW of power, enough to supply energy for up-to 200,000 households in the area. It is considered to be the largest solar technology development in the world.
The development of Longyangxia exemplifies China’s determination to transform itself into a green superpower devoid of reliance on fossil fuels. China’s Energy Agency have vowed to invest a further $360bn in renewable energy sources by 2020. It is hoped the investment will deal with local environmental issues such as smog, whilst also creating an estimated 13 million jobs in the process.
With the cost of solar technologies falling, and China increasingly investing in photovoltaic technology, the future is looking bright for the Chinese Solar Industry.
There are huge opportunities in India’s future if it is able to successfully integrate and engage with solar technology.
The country is facing rising costs of fossil-fuel power production, increasing environmental concerns over the same, and huge power deficits as the current energy supply struggles to meet rocketing demand.
Solar power however is ideally suited to Indian conditions, owing in part to the countries high levels of solar irradiation. Photovoltaics are also quick to install and provide energy, with rapidly falling costs of initial investment and maintenance.
An example of the success of solar in India, is the Tamil Nadu Facility in Kamuthi. The solar power plant has a capacity of 648 MW, with 2.5 million individual solar modules covering an area of 10 sq. km. At full capacity, it is estimated the farm can produce enough electricity to power around 150,000 homes.
In line with the success of their current installations, such as that exemplified above, India has set itself ambitious targets for the future. By 2022, India aims to power 60 million homes via solar energy. This equates to a rough target of 100 GW of solar power. This is a sub-set of the countries wider goal to produce 40% of its power from renewables by 2030.
Of course, as with any ambitious plans, there are challenges that India will have to deal with, such as conflicts over land ownership and related rates of compensation. The important point to note however is the actual desire and commitment of India and its government to reduce its environmental footprint. The overall outlook for solar power development in India should be viewed as very positive.Discover More