China owns the solar supply chain, jeopardizing the energy transition

A new International Energy Agency report traces how China came to dominate the global solar supply chain — and how that puts the rest of the world at risk.


The Tesla Gigafactory while under construction east of Reno, Nevada in March 2015. Panasonic's new EV battery factory slated for construction in Kansas is expected to be of a similar size. (David Calvert/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Tesla Gigafactory while under construction east of Reno, Nevada in March 2015. Panasonic's new EV battery factory slated for construction in Kansas is expected to be of a similar size. (David Calvert/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Written by Shel Evergreen. Published by Canary Media July 25, 2022.


Production capacity for solar panels and their inputs needs to at least double by 2030 in order to meet global climate goals, but China’s continued dominance of the solar supply chain poses a grave threat to the world’s ability to meet these goals. That’s one of the key takeaways of a report released earlier this month by the International Energy Agency.


China has made massive investments in building out its solar manufacturing over the last decade — over $50 billion since 2011, or 10 times more than what Europe has spent, according to the report. The country’s industrial and innovation policies have also helped to reduce global manufacturing costs by 80%, enabling production to scale up exponentially. Thanks to these developments, solar has become the ​“cheapest electricity in history,” but China’s dominance has also left the rest of the world vulnerable to numerous supply-chain disruptions. To mitigate these risks...


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