Air pollution costs China $1.9 billion in solar electricity each year

A truck filled with coal drives down a freeway in China.

Enlarge (credit: Han Jun
Zeng / Flickr
)

Coal is seen by many as an enemy of renewable energy and the
first fossil fuel in line for elimination as things like solar and
wind generation have gotten cheaper. But counterattacks from coal
can go even further than lobbying against pro-renewable policies,
it seems. According to new research, China’s coal-driven air
pollution is significantly reducing the output of solar panels by
dimming the Sun.

China is easily number one in terms of new solar construction
right now, accounting for over half of the world’s installs in
2017, for example. Between 2010 and 2017, China went from having
less than 1 gigawatt of solar capacity to 130 gigawatts, and the
country is headed for around 400 gigawatts by 2030. After a run of
transformative economic growth powered by coal and other fossil
fuels, China is dealing with choking air pollution that is a major
driving factor in this solar push.

Recent research
has compiled a record of solar radiation measurements around China
going back to the late 1950s. The research shows a declining trend
in solar radiation until about 2005, when it leveled off and began
to tick back upward. That tracks the increasing particulate air
pollution due to coal-burning power plants and manufacturing—as
well as biomass burning—that has only recently been
addressed.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Air pollution costs China .9 billion in solar electricity each year