Behind the boom in American solar energy, a mountain of Chinese coal – .

Behind the boom in American solar energy, a mountain of Chinese coal – .

Solar panel installations are on the rise in the United States and Europe as Western countries seek to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
But the West faces a conundrum when it installs panels on small rooftops and in sprawling desert arrays: most of them are produced with power from coal-fired power plants emitting carbon dioxide. in China.
Concerns are growing in the United States and Europe that the reliance of the solar industry on Chinese coal will cause emissions to rise sharply in the years to come, with manufacturers rapidly ramping up production of solar panels to meet demand. This would make the solar industry one of the most prolific polluters in the world, analysts say, jeopardizing some of the emission reductions achieved through widespread adoption.
For years, China’s cheap coal-fired electricity has given the country’s solar panel makers a competitive edge, allowing them to dominate global markets.
Chinese factories supply more than three-quarters of the world’s polysilicon, an essential component of most solar panels, according to industry analyst Johannes Bernreuter. Polysilicon factories refine silicon metal using a process that consumes large amounts of electricity, making access to cheap energy a cost advantage. Chinese authorities have built a series of coal-fired power plants in sparsely populated areas such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia to support polysilicon makers and other energy-intensive industries.


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