Will solar power and coal power cost the same four years from now? One Chinese agency thinks so. In a new report, China has announced plans to double its solar capacity by the end of this year. And as TreeHugger.com points out, Chinese officials say the price of solar-generated electricity could be on par with that of coal-generated electricity by 2015.
Right now, China burns nearly half of the world's coal, and between 2002 and 2007, its use of coal doubled. In fact, a recent study suggested that the lull in global warming between 1998 and 2008 was mainly caused by China's increased coal use and the smog it threw into the atmosphere.
At the same time, China is the world's largest producer of solar technology, and it has set benchmarks for solar power generation that should encourage more reliance on clean energy in the future. Carl Pope, the Chair of the Sierra Club, believes that new commitment is a result of decreasing access to cheap coal. Whatever the reason, more clean sources of electricity are always welcome, and if China's push leads to more affordable solar technology, everybody wins.