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China set to add 50GW new solar PV in 2017

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Image: Pixabay, CC0 - public domain

China is on track to install a record-smashing 50GW of solar PV in 2017, with latest data showing that the nation has so far installed around 42GW, taking its total installed PV capacity to around 120GW.

According to the latest report from Asia Europe Clean Energy Consultants (AECEA), China needs to add just under 3GW of new solar in each remaining month of 2017 to reach 50GW, and deliver a second consecutive record breaking year.Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.31.23 AM copy

This should not be a problem for the world’s leading market, particularly considering a massive 25GW was installed in June and July alone – although that figure was boosted by a rush to get in before cuts to the feed-in tariff.

A similar pattern emerges in 2016 data, although this year, AECEA says momentum has remained strong, thanks to grid curtailment across West China, the lowering of FiTs and an increasing number of provinces and major cities offering additional solar incentives.

And while much of China’s solar growth this year has been of the large-scale variety, the report notes that distributed solar generation in China has also been impressive.

According to the figures, a total of 15GW was installed on rooftops of homes and businesses around China in the first three quarters of 2017, marking a 255 per cent year-on-year increase in uptake, and taking the nation towards a DG total of 25-28GW by the end of the year.

AECEA says this sort of growth in small-scale solar installs puts China on target to meet the target of its 13th Five Year Plan, to have 60GW of distributed solar PV generation installed by 2020.

The report also notes that, since 2010, the share of renewable energy in China’s electricity mix has increased by 8 per cent, while coal – which last year supplied 65 per cent of China’s power – decreased by 11 per cent.

And it points the energy storage sector as China’s next “Bull” market. According to AECEA data, an estimated 200 energy storage manufacturers in China last year produced a combined capacity of 120GWh of energy storage that is scheduled to be operational by 2018.

In the longer term, the report adds, battery production rates could increase by as much as 40 per cent this year and total around 270GWh by 2020.

In 2016, China’s lithium-ion battery shipments increased by 80 per cent, year-on-year in 2016.  

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  • RobertO

    Hi all, Australia for GHG is about 1.5% to 2% and yes China is the first or second largest produces of GHG. On a per capita basis we are number 1 or 2 in the world and China is no 34 in the world and they are trying to do something about it. Australia pollies want to make sure we stay number one on the per capita basis. We may make 1 GW for this year and China 50 GW. Good on China with Coal down 11% as well

    • George Darroch

      They have higher per-capita emissions than the EU-27.

      For a long time they decided they didn’t have responsibilities to limit their emissions, but they’ve realised that they need to reduce them for their own sake (climate impacts on China will be substantial) and because they can assume technology leadership (which they have).

  • Tom

    The graph is illegible.

    • Joe

      …and I thought it was my vision going off and needed to visit OPSM.

  • Tim Buckley

    Meanwhile back if fossil fool land, our Prime Minister is trumpeting a return to coal fired power. What a wasted opportunity for Australia to be part of the next energy revolution. So much to gain, yet Mal and Tony have jointly decided we need to build even more stranded assets.
    50GW is more solar than the entire world installed in aggregate in 2015. Just one country – China. The world’s largest trading partner. Australia’s largest trade partner. They are moving in one direction, Australia heading backwards.

  • homeofthebrave

    I’m interested in what’s really fueling solar growth at this time. It could be government protectionism-interest in providing a more competitive production basis, to mandated or expected mandate of reduced pollution/related greenhouse gas reductions, to actual financial viability, or mere corporate image enhancement, or combinations. [One cannot ignore that ethanol never attained a viable energy balance nor financial basis, yet remains driven forward by other interests]. Last I looked solar and wind still lacked a viable (financially sustainable) ROI (typically around 15% against a corporate requirement for >52%). Seen any good peer-reviewed information? Not to be rude, but I’m looking for detailed financial/techno-economic modeling data.

    • Malcolm M

      This is driven by air pollution, which is a hot political issue among the middle class in China. But it can make China look good on the world stage by taking action on climate change.

      • Frank

        It’s not about looking good or caring about what middle class Chinese want. It’s about what it’s always about….money and power. Solar is cheap and requires no fuel from 3rd parties.

    • Frank

      Primarily economics with some geopolitics sprinkled in there.

  • Malcolm M

    Once the Chinese solar market slows through saturation, its manufacturing capability will no doubt export its surplus, leading to further price falls across the world.