Solar supply chains are too concentrated in China, says IEA

Solar supply chains are too concentrated in China, says IEA

(Reuters) – Countries must expand photovoltaic panel manufacturing, currently concentrated in China, to ensure secure supply and meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the International Climate Change Agency warned on Thursday. energy (IEA).

According to a report by the Paris-based organization, the world must double its current capacity to produce the “essential building blocks” of solar panels: polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells and modules, by 2030.

Photovoltaic technology, which turns solar energy into electricity, has become the cheapest way to generate energy in many parts of the world, thanks in part to Chinese investment.

China hosted in 2021 79% of the production capacity of polysilicon, raw material for the manufacture of photovoltaic modules, says the IEA. Xinjiang province is home to 42% of that capacity, including the country’s largest plant, which alone accounts for 14% of global capacity.

“This level of concentration in any global supply chain would represent a huge vulnerability,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol told Reuters.

According to the report, China will soon produce almost 95% of the world’s polysilicon.

“If there is a fire or a natural disaster, it can have implications for the clean energy transition globally in terms of soaring prices and even the availability of solar PV,” he said. he declares.

The EU, which seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports, has the capacity to manufacture these parts with lower carbon emissions, thanks to the large share of nuclear and renewables in its energy mix, but only Sweden currently has energy prices for industry low enough to do so competitively, the IEA says.

(Isla Binnie report, written by Bernadette Baum; French version Diana Mandiá, edited by Jean-Stéphane Brosse)

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