“China is hegemonic at all levels of solar energy, like batteries”

LNumerology, a fundamental element of Chinese culture, is also very useful in economics. The Americans found the Magnificent Sevenreference to Seven mercenaries. A striking shortcut to demonstrate that the American stock market owed most of its spectacular rise in 2023 to just seven companies: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Nvidia and Tesla.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers China, champion of renewable energies… and addicted to coal

In the same vein, China now has its “three new ones”. These are the three industrial sectors that explain a good part of Chinese growth in 2023: electric cars, lithium-ion batteries and solar panel cells.

According to calculations by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, located in Finland, which is based on official Chinese statistics, clean energies (including nuclear) brought in nearly 1,600 billion dollars (1 476 billion euros) to the Chinese economy in 2023. Without this contribution, the country’s growth that year, effectively 5.2%, would only be 3%. In other words, this single sector alone contributed 40% of the expansion of the entire Chinese economy last year.

Irrecoverable delay

According to the magazine Dialogue with Chinain London, it was a senior customs official who found the formula of the “three new” in reference to the “three old” which had long been, in the 20the century, the pillars of Chinese exports: textiles, household appliances and household equipment. In detail, China represented, in 2022, nearly 83% of global exports of solar panel cells, 52% of batteries and 23% of electric vehicles. Over the first half of 2023, these three sectors saw their foreign sales increase by more than 60%.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers China wants to control exports of two rare earths essential to semiconductors

This performance is the consequence of an industrial policy across the entire value chain, initiated in 2005 and boosted by the massive recovery plan of 2008, at a time when the Europeans, who, at the time, held 60% of the global solar panel market, have abandoned their generous subsidies.

Now, from the basic material (silicon) to the finished panels, China is hegemonic at all levels of solar energy, such as batteries. So much so that, according to the research firm Rystad Energy, it will be impossible for Westerners to catch up with current technologies, even with the massive subsidies they are deploying today. The only hope is research to prepare future generations. But will we have the patience?