As journalists and even United States Senator Dianne Feinstein warn that World War 3 is on the horizon or even already started, China is making gains on the U.S. in at least one area removed from military power. The Asian powerhouse now has more solar panel energy capacity than the U.S. and is second only to Germany, reported Christian Science Monitor.
During the first six months of 2014, China amassed another 3.3 gigawatts of solar panels — doubling their additions over the same period in 2013. The massive increase is the same as Australia’s entire current solar capacity. While Germany is still unequivocally the world leader in solar panel energy at 36 GW of solar sources, China’s goal for 2015 is to bring their number up to 35 GW.
Currently, China stands about 13 GW short of this hefty goal, reported Christian Science Monitor. However, the U. S. stands significantly below those numbers with 13.4 GW hours of total solar panel capacity, according to a report released by the Solar Power Industries Association earlier this year. China isn’t the only country pulling ahead on the solar panel front — Japan is also making gains on the North American and European market after the Fukushima nuclear energy disaster forced the country to seek alternative forms of energy.
But how can the U.S. compete with China’s solar energy rise? The simple answer is more incentives. China has installed a tariff that gives back 14 to 16 U.S. cents per KW/h of solar energy produced. In the U.S., similar incentives have been implemented, but many complain that regulation makes it extremely difficult to get new projects off the ground, said Christian Science Monitor.
Although China’s solar panel mad dash may jar U.S. nationalists, it is also important to note that the Asian country’s quickly increasing solar panel use is partially due to the fact that they are confronting some of the worst air pollution problems in the world, largely due to their dependency on coal as an energy source. Air pollution is continuing to worsen in the country despite efforts to get the problem under control with alternative energy sources like solar panels. Last month, the national Ministry of Environmental Protection reported that air pollution was present during more than a quarter of the month in the 74 cities that the agency monitors. Compared to July 2013, the number is up 19.5 percent, reported Global Post.
Outrage over China’s pollution problems has even expanded from the solar panel addition race to the art world. NPR recently reported on an art exhibit from Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, whose work was inspired by the morning where residents of Shanghai awoke to find 16,000 dead pigs floating in the river.
“My feeling was like everyone’s. This was so unacceptable, so many dead pigs floating on the river. It’s an outrageous thing.”
[Image via Dawn Of Solar]