According to a recent report by Bloomberg, China has grown its massive integrated production supply chain to produce 75% of the world’s solar panels. An earlier story by Forbes said that around 80% of solar panels installed in the United States come from China.
Ironically, China powers many of its solar manufacturing facilities with coal. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 58% of China’s 2019 primary energy consumption came from coal, while just 13% came from hydroelectric and other renewable sources.
China dependence on coal has been attracting headlines for another reason as of late — Bitcoin. Bitcoin is becoming an environmental nightmare as computing power is deployed to mine the precious commodity. The problem is that Bitcoin mining consumes a lot of electricity. Two-thirds of Bitcoin mining takes place in China, where coal supplies cheap electricity to large-scale mining operations.
To China’s credit, the country has made strides with renewables, as well as with natural gas by importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). Its economic progress is undeniably impressive, but its environmental initiatives will be tainted as long as it relies so heavily on coal.