Inside the Numbers in China

c-si panel
c-si panel
In 2008, Applied Materials unveiled a 2 megawatt parking lot and roof top solar installation at its Sunnyvale, California location. It was then, and remains, one of the largest corporate installations in the world. We liked to kid that we installed 10% of what China installed the prior year (China having installed just 20 megawatts in 2007).

It has been much reported that China has aggressively moved to become the global leader in the production of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. In fact, over 40% of the world's panels are now made in China. In 2008 that came to about 3 gigawatts of panels, about 99% of which were exported.

What's new is that when you view the past several years from the vantage point of 2007, you can see the meteoric rise in China's solar energy consumption.

In 2008, China installed about 35 megawatts of PV panels, a healthy 75% increase over the prior year but still only about 1/10th of the installations done in the US. But in 2009, estimates range from 300 to 500 megawatts of installed solar in China, a remarkable 10X increase over last year – which would put China’s demand on par with the U.S. Moreover, most estimates for 2010 are for more than another doubling, or over 1 gigawatt, which could then put China at number 2 behind Germany and with an eye toward overtaking them as the world's leader in solar power consumption as early as 2011. This emerging industry in China is creating clean power, good jobs and also a degree of manufacturing scale that will be a competitive challenge for those who wait to invest.

No kidding around anymore.

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