A solar plant in Inner Mongolia, China, constructed with SunPower® solar technology.

The 20th century inventor and innovator Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

I was reminded of this apt observation while attending a luncheon Friday for China’s President Xi Jinping in Washington, D.C. President Xi announced a new cap-and-trade initiative that builds on existing U.S. and Chinese commitments designed to significantly reduce CO2 emissions by 2025 and 2030 respectively. It’s a tremendous step forward in tackling the climate change issue, making a strong move in advance of negotiations in Paris and showing leadership at home and abroad by two of the largest economies.

During the visit, it occurred to me that such a scenario – close collaboration on bold measures to protect our climate – was unthinkable just a few short years ago. In many ways, we’re already on the road to success with a broader emphasis to work together and help make these tangible commitments a reality. According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy could supply more than a quarter of the world’s electricity by 2050. Faster progress is essential if we are to meet this goal. 

Solar is common ground in U.S.-China partnership

As someone who works hand-in-hand with SunPower’s thousands of global employees, it goes without saying that any worthwhile plan requires that we think carefully about execution, especially in the context of aggressive CO2 reduction commitments. This is where solar power is well positioned to be the catalyst – it’s both an opportunity and necessity if China and the U.S. are to make progress together. It’s the great connector of our shared environmental and economic priorities.

Consider the following: China’s National Energy Administration has announced that the country plans to install as much as 17.8 GW of solar this year – an unprecedented demand for solar. This year, China will install four times as much solar as America has cumulatively. For SunPower, China continues to be a successful market, where we’ve already installed about 70 MW. And we are planning to take an even larger role in development.

We have two, four-way joint ventures in China and are fortunate to have partnered with Apple to build two solar power plants that we announced earlier this year. These projects will provide clean energy, help address climate change and provide benefits to local farmers, all while protecting the area’s precious land.

For the U.S. and China, we can protect our climate while growing our respective economies now and in the future. Our expansion in both markets will help power our growth and our customers’ growth here at home and across the globe. As a company, we have never been more focused on becoming a full-fledged partner to help our customers achieve their goals.

The fact that climate change and economic growth dominated the discussion last week is the latest evidence that this new and proactive mindset is here to stay. We’re thrilled to help lead the way.

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