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China Raises Solar Targets

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Monday, December 19, 2011
SustainableBusiness.com News

China raised its target for the amount of solar it will install by 2015, from 10 gigawatts (GW) to 15 GW, an increase of 50%.

Since the government introduced a national solar feed-in tariff (FiT) in July, and then recently raised the price it would pay for solar under the program, installations are booming. The country is expected to install over 2 GW this year, compared to just 500 MW in 2010.

China re-iterated the rest of its 5-Year Renewable Energy Plan, which has a target for wind of 100 GW by 2015, with 5 GW of that offshore.

The country had originally set 5 GW as its solar target, but doubled down after the nuclear meltdown in Japan. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects China will install a whopping 180 GW of wind and solar capacity by 2020 - the same amount built across the world in the last 40 years and equivalent to 180 nuclear plants. 

That's up from 42 GW of wind and 1 GW of solar today.

Is any more evidence needed that national FiTs work?

FiTs are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world's wind power and 90% of the world's solar, and even Todd Stern, US climate negotiator, called for FiTs as a key to transforming the energy sector in a speech to environmental leaders at the Durban conference. 

Malaysia's Renewable Energy FiT became law last week, which is expected to result in 3000 MW of renewables by 2020, evenly divided between solar, wind and biomass. It sets specific targets for each technology to avoid EU-style bubbles and gives bonus payments for locally manufactured products.

Almost the entire solar allocation through 2014 was applied for within the first 24 hours! The program is paid for by a 1% levy on utility bills. 

Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines and Uganda are among the countries that have similar policies.

An the UK's Renewable Heat Incentive FiT also went into force, expecting a flood of applications. This is the first program to pay for the heat (rather than electricity) generated by solar panels. 

Although the program for residential systems is postponed until 2012, systems up to 200 kW get £0.085 per kilowatt hour (kWh) ($0.13/kWh);  ground source heat pumps under 100 kW get £0.043/kWh ($0.07/kWh) and over 100 kW get £0.03/kWh ($0.05/kWh).

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