Satellite image of the 850 MW Longyangxia Solar Park in Qinghai Province, China.
Official data released by NEA states that 24.4 GW of new PV capacity was installed in China during the first half of 2017. On top of this, AECEA estimates that another 10.5 GW was added in July, bringing the total from Jan-July to 34.92 GW, around 380 MW ahead of 2016’s figure of 34.54 GW.
China’s cumulative capacity now stands at 112.34 GW, already around 7 GW ahead of the 2020 target of 105 GW outlined in the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), and current estimates predict that by 2020 China’s PV capacity could reach as much as 230 GW.
After another installation rush in the first half of the year, AECEA now expects demand to slow down until at least the end of Q3. The fourth quarter of 2017 is harder to predict at this stage, says AECEA, due to the launch of the electricity certificate trading scheme scheduled for November. Pilot programmes for this scheme including more than 2,000 companies have been in place since 2013, and the nationwide launch is designed to quadruple its scope, making it the largest CO2 certificate trading scheme in the world.
Based on the continued strong demand in July, after the latest round of FIT cuts took hold, AECEA has upped its forecast for PV installations in China to 40-45 GW, an increase of at least 16% on 2016. The company has nicknamed Chinese PV ‘the bull’, thanks to its performance in comparison to other generation sources.
In the period Jan-July 2017, China added 1.09 GW of new nuclear capacity, 6.69 GW of hydro, 7.3 GW of wind and 18.84 GW of thermal power. The size of new solar installations for this period, 34.92 GW, outlines the increasingly important role played by the technology in China’s energy mix.
Since 2010, according to AECEA, the overall share of renewables in China’s energy mix has increased by 8%. In 2016, the country generated 65% of its energy from coal, and the country has an additional 200 GW pipeline of new coal power plants set to come online by 2020.