Paper Published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling

Title: Solar photovoltaics can help China fulfill a net-zero electricity system by 2050 even facing climate change risks

Journal: Resources, Conservation and Recycling


Abstract: As China has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2060, electrifying its energy sector is no doubt one of the priority measures to support the transition towards a more sustainable and decarbonized energy system. Solar photovoltaics (PV) has been known as one of the most promising renewable technologies to facilitate the electrification of energy systems. The feasibility of utilizing PV to implement a nationwide decarbonized electricity system now becomes an urgent unanswered question, especially in the context of global climate change and rapid economic growth in China. Here, by using a GIS-based multiple-criteria decision-making approach we address this question by conducting a comprehensive feasibility analysis with consideration of various economic, technological, logistical, and climate change factors. We show that it is feasible for China to fulfill a net-zero electricity system by 2050, through the installation of 7.46 TW solar PV panels on about 1.8% of the national land area (mostly in western China) with a total capital investment of 4.55 trillion USD in the next 30 years. Besides, we show that future climate change may lead to a slight decrease (less than 5%) in solar energy potential, but this would not affect the capability of the nationwide PV system to meet the need for a fully-electrified energy system.