China’s Dominance Of Clean Energy Supply Chains Raises Concerns

solar panels on green field

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Over the past decade, no major energy source has grown faster than solar power. According to the 2020 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity has grown at an average annual rate of over 42% over the past 10 years, translating into a doubling of global capacity every 1.7 years on average.

Although that blistering pace could start slowing down as installed capacity grows, solar will likely remain the fastest-growing energy source for the foreseeable future. Much as with other energy sources, however, solar’s growth is giving rise to a number of thorny questions regarding geopolitics, supply chains, and national security.

The Path to Decarbonization

From a North American perspective, the election of Joe Biden as U.S. President has breathed new life into the Paris climate agreement — the most significant global effort to rein in carbon dioxide emissions to date. Fulfilling a key campaign promise, President Biden officially rejoined the Paris accord last month. At the same time, following meetings between President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada also pledged to submit its own new target under the Paris pact, with the two leaders insisting on a joint approach to climate issues.

The European Union, for its part, has consistently maintained an aggressive stance toward carbon emission reductions. The EU is on a path to surpass its goal of generating a third of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Last September, the European Commission presented its plan to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. That would put the EU on a path to reach climate neutrality by 2050. 

All of these efforts point to one inescapable conclusion: installed renewable energy capacity will continue to rise as governments on both sides of the Atlantic pour money into decarbonization efforts.

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