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China’s solar module production is unmatched in quantity and costs — here’s what that means for US solar

“Oversupply will undeniably hinder some of the current expansion plans.”

“Oversupply will undeniably hinder some of the current expansion plans."

Photo Credit: iStock

China’s solar revolution is in full swing, and a new report asserts that the country will be capable of meeting global annual demand by 2032.

This didn’t happen by accident. China invested over $130 billion into its solar industry in 2023, according to an Electrek article covering the Nov. 2023 report from global research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie.

From the beginning of 2024 through 2026, China will hold more than 80% of global capacity across the solar module supply chain, the report said. 

Though the United States, Europe, and other regions have dedicated themselves to expanded solar manufacturing, they can’t keep pace with China’s cheap prices. Per the report, a module made in China costs 50% less than one produced in Europe and 65% less than one produced in the U.S., noted Electrek.

“Despite strong government initiatives for developing local manufacturing in overseas markets, China will still dominate the global solar supply chain and continue to widen the technology and cost gap with competitors,” the report’s author, Huaiyan Sun, said via Electrek.

However, “Oversupply will undeniably hinder some of the current expansion plans. More than 70 [gigawatts] of capacity in China has been terminated or suspended in the past three months,” Sun added in a statement.

China’s solar expansion has caused solar panel prices to nosedive significantly in 2023, which is good news for consumers. All the same, it has gotten U.S. producers, who have been banking on a government-backed homeland manufacturing boom, a bit up in arms, as Reuters reported.

Overall, a shift to more affordable solar is good for people and the planet.

For one, the average American homeowner who installs solar panels will save around $42,000 over 25 years, according to EnergySage. This accounts for the initial cost of the panels combined with the lower cost of energy across those years.

Then there’s the environmental benefits of going solar. This form of clean and renewable energy plays an important role in keeping the levels of planet-warming gases at bay. Opting for solar can also improve air quality and reduce water use from energy production, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

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