Solar power is now cheaper than grid electricity in cities across China which could drive a surge in uptake, according to new research.
Some experts thought China would have to wait decades until solar generation cost the same as electricity from the grid.
However, thanks to a combination of technological advances and support from the government, “grid parity” has already been reached.
Scientists found that all of the 344 cities they looked at could have cheaper electricity powered by solar energy, according to the study published in the journal Nature Energy.
Twenty-two percent of cities could also have solar systems that would generate lower-cost electricity than coal, according to the researchers, led by Jinyue Yan from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
As the price of clean energy technology plummets and China’s electricity demands rapidly rise, investing in renewables is becoming more appealing.
Kingsmill Bond, an energy strategist at Carbon Tracker who was not involved in the research, told Carbon Brief: “The conclusion that industrial and commercial solar is cheaper than grid electricity means that the workshop of the world can embrace solar.
Without subsidy and its distorting impacts, and driven by commercial gain.”
In just 25 years China has gone from having no solar panels to at least 100 percent more than any other country.
It is already home to several vast solar farms including the Tengger Desert plant, which is the world’s largest. In 2017, China was by far the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, accounting for nearly half of the new infrastructure commissioned.