John Daly of OilPrice.com reports that JA Solar, a large Chinese solar power company, "has just developed a new technology that could cut the cost of producing silicon, an important material in manufacturing solar panels, by 60 percent," and that China plans to make solar a part of its strategy towards Africa:
According to Sun Guangbin, the secretary-general of photovoltaic products at the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, speaking in a recent interview, China intends to build solar power projects in 40 African nations in a boot-strap effort that will both reduce the continent’s reliance on fossil fuels and open a new market for Chinese manufacturers, the biggest producers of solar panels. Sun noted, “China needs new emerging markets to consume their solar products besides Europe, and Africa could be one of them. We’ll begin investigating this month in Africa to determine a suitable project in each country, such as installing solar panels on the rooftops of schools and hospitals.”
Compare this with today’s pronouncement from London that the Conservative government of David Cameron intends “Drastic cuts for large-scale solar power subsidies,” according to a headline in the Guardian.
London and Washington are both still wedded to Big Oil and nuclear power. But if the 21st century is going to be about the struggle by Western economies to have access to Third World raw materials, it would seem that Africans, their schools, hospitals and home lighted by solar panels, may well look eastwards.