China’s buildings and rooftops have potential to host more than 1,000 GW of solar power capacity — almost the same size as the entire existing global industry, according to the sector’s largest manufacturer.
According to Zhong Baoshen, chairman of Longi Green Energy Technology Co., there is theoretically enough space on residential, commercial, and public properties to host that scale of generation capacity as costs fall and technologies advance. During peak generation, that would be enough to power at least 750 million homes.
Global solar photovoltaic generation capacity increased by about 27% to 1,223.5 GW in 2022, with China accounting for more than a third of the total, according to BloombergNEF.
Reaching 1,000 GW would necessarily entail the industry overcoming obstacles such as grid constraints and a lack of energy storage capacity, implying that the estimate will likely remain theoretical in the short term. Nonetheless, Zhong is optimistic about China's ability to quickly develop such distributed renewable sources.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the country set a goal last year of adding 50 GW of solar capacity to buildings between 2021 and 2025. Instead, the country added 51 GW of distributed solar projects last year alone, mostly on the rooftops of homes, factories, and office buildings.
Distributed solar projects are also beneficial to rural revitalization, which has been a key government priority in recent years to boost economic development and improve rural living standards.
“Rural revitalization is not only about rapid economic development, but also green and low-carbon development to meet villagers’ expectations for a better life,” Zhong said in a written response to questions.