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China is leading in the renewable energy race

Photovoltaic solar energy grew faster than any fuel in 2016 and will be responsible for adding more capacity to the global system in the next four years.

China is leading in the renewable energy race
In the middle of last year, China started the largest floating solar power plant in the world. (Image credit: Wikipedia)

In the next five years, the world will incorporate 70,000 solar panels every hour.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) disseminated the data and translated it into a daily image to try to convey its dimension: with that number of solar panels "appearing" around the world could cover a thousand football fields every day, for five years.

According to the International Energy Association (IEA), photovoltaic solar energy grew faster than any fuel in 2016 and will also be responsible for adding more capacity to the system in the next four years than any other type of energy renewable, including wind and hydro.

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The insatiable Chinese demand, the constant low cost for the acquisition and installation of solar panels and the increase of public policies in different countries to promote its use make experts project that by 2022 the solar energy capacity in the world will be triple, as per ELDia.

Chinese numbers

According to calculations, China will add 40 percent of the world's new solar panels by 2022 even though it has already exceeded its solar energy target by 2020.

Last year, the new photovoltaic solar capacity worldwide grew 50 percent, reaching more than 74 GW, and China accounts for almost half of this expansion. For the first time, additions of photovoltaic solar energy increased faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth of coal, according to the IEA.

ALSO READ| China takes the lead from Europe in renewable energies

The Association expects that along with China's solar expansion, improvements in regulations in other key countries, such as India, Japan, and the United States make the cumulative capacity of global photovoltaic solar energy triple to 880 GW by 2022.

The forecasts indicate that solar energy will be the main protagonist. The figures show that during the next five years, photovoltaic solar energy will represent the largest incorporation of annual capacity for renewables, well above the wind and hydroelectric power, as per ELDia.

A sea of solar energy

In the middle of last year, China started the largest floating solar power plant in the world.

The fame - and reality - of being one of the main polluters of the world, with a high consumption of coal and its cities covered with smog, pushed the Asian giant to design a green policy.

ALSO READ| China implements the first environmental protection tax

Currently, China invests more each year in wind, hydro and solar energy than any other country on earth, the WEF said.

With the start-up of the largest floating solar energy plant on the planet, the Asian giant added an important point on its way to the title of "world leader in renewable energies".

The facility is located in the city of Huainan, in the eastern province of Anhui. It has a capacity of 40 megawatts (MW), enough to power a small city and in what the WEF defines as "a stroke of pleasant symbolism", the plant floats on an old region flooded with coal mines.

ALSO READ| South Korea seeks China's help on tackling air pollution

Floating solar panels have several advantages: they do not occupy any valuable space on earth and the cooling effect of the water on which they float makes the panels more efficient. In addition, they can help mitigate the evaporation of water for drinking or irrigating by intercepting sunlight before it strikes the surface of a deposit, details an article by the organization.

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