The New Solar System. China's Evolving Solar Industry and its Implications for Competitive Solar Power in the United States and the World

Solar power is surging. But it must get significantly less expensive to expand to a level that would contribute meaningfully to global carbon-reduction goals. The New Solar System, a major new report from Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, outlines an economically efficient path to scale up solar power. Based on two years of research, The New Solar System illuminates key and little-understood changes remaking the solar enterprise in China, the center of the global solar industry. In doing so, the report busts several prevailing myths about the Chinese solar industry. Based on those findings, The New Solar System recommends changes to U.S. policy to put solar power on a more cost-effective course for the world. The changes would involve a more-nuanced U.S. approach to China — an approached that rests on each country playing to its comparative strengths.

The New Solar System was featured in a New York Times op-ed by Jeffrey Ball, the report’s lead author and the Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center’s scholar-in-residence, and Dan Reicher, a co-author of the report and the Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center’s executive director. The report’s other co-authors are Xiaojing Sun and Caitlin Pollock, who worked as co-managers of research for the study. Ball and Reicher launched the report in an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington hosted by Brookings’ John L. Thornton China Center.

The work underlying The New Solar System was funded by a research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant gave the Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center full independence and authority to frame the inquiry, conduct the research, draw conclusions, and write the report.