China’s rapid solar expansion comes with help from local residents and businesses

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. decent / ˈdi sənt / (adj.) – relating to something that is considered good enough, acceptable, or reasonable in quality, standard, or performance

    The company offered Jason a decent salary for his entry-level position.

  2. diversify / daɪˈvɜr səˌfaɪ / (v.) – (in business) to increase the variety of products or services offered by a company by including new ones

    The company diversified its product line by introducing a range of eco-friendly options.

  3. mount / maʊnt / (v.) – to attach or put something in place securely for use

    Dad decided to mount the TV on the wall in the living room for better viewing.

  4. prospect / ˈprɒs pɛkt / (n.) – the possibility that something will be successful in the future

    With a degree in computer science, James has excellent prospects for finding a well-paying job in the tech industry.

  5. constraint / kənˈstreɪnt / (n.) – something that restricts or limits what someone or something can do

    The company had to operate within budget constraints to avoid spending too much.


Read the text below.

Shandong Province in east China is taking an early lead in the country’s solar energy development, but it now faces challenges that will be met by other regions sooner or later.

China is ramping up to install clean energy to meet the urgency of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions. The country wants one-fifth of its power to come from renewables by 2025, and it’s offered a wide range of subsidies to local governments and businesses.

Wang Xingyong installs and maintains rooftop solar panels for clients ranging from villagers to factories. His business has doubled every year since 2016.

Wang said the concept was a hard sell at first, with few people believing the government would pay them for generating electricity.

“As people’s understanding of solar power deepens, our business has grown. This trend is reflected in our company’s operation. We have an annual business growth of 100% to 200%,” said Wang.

Shi Mei and her husband earn a decent living by growing corn and millet on their small farm near Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province. In 2021, they diversified by investing in solar energy—signing a contract to mount some 40 panels on their roof to feed energy to the grid.

Now, the couple gets paid for every watt of electricity they generate, harvesting an extra 10,000 Chinese yuan (about $1,300) per year that Shi can track through an app on her phone.

“When the sun comes out, you make money,” said Shi.

But now, the grid has more power than it can handle. Shi was fortunate to get in early; some cities across Shandong province, including her village, are halting new rooftop solar installations.

It’s the leading province for renewable energy capacity, but that also means it’s the first to encounter the difficulties of rapid growth.

Wang is optimistic about his prospects despite the halt to new projects. “We would like to use some of our costs to invest in transformers to increase their capacity so we can solve the problem of capacity constraints. Everyone wants to be part of the effort,” said Wang.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Wang said the concept of putting solar panels on villagers’ and factories’ rooftops was a hard sell at first. What do you think would encourage people to participate in this kind of environmental initiative (ex. offering them money, educating them about its environmental impact)? Would you agree to participate in this kind of initiative? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you believe that the participation of local businesses and residents is crucial in meeting the environmental goals of the city? Why do you say so? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think are the strengths of Wang’s business model (ex. it urges everyone to participate in the country’s environmental goals, it doesn’t need huge land space to operate)? Do you think this model will also be effective in your country? Why do you say so? Discuss.
  • Some cities are halting installations because the grid has more power than it can handle. Is it only reasonable for Wang to be optimistic about his business prospects despite the halt to new projects? Why or why not? Discuss.