Reports out of China show that the country managed to install 30GW of solar PV in 2019 – an unsurprising decrease on previous years – but buoyed by an impressive 12GW of capacity installed in the month of December.
A report from PV Magazine quoting an “insider at the China Photovoltaic Industry Association” and Frank Haugwitz from the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co (AECEA) quoting China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) confirm figures that China installed a total of 30.22GW of new solar PV capacity in 2019, bringing the country’s cumulative total of grid-connected solar PV to 204.68GW.
This figure is unsurprisingly down on the previous two years, the result of policy failures and uncertainty which slammed the industry in 2018 after its record 2017 which saw a total installed capacity of 52.83GW, dropping to 44.3GW in 2018 and now a further drop to only 30.22 GW.
The surprising drop in 2018 was caused by a Chinese government decision to reverse course on its existing solar energy policy, which was further exacerbated by a lengthy delay in outlining any new national solar policy, not announced until June of 2019.
Detailed information for China’s solar installations in 2019 are as yet unavailable – currently all reporting is based on the NEA’s release of “2019 national power industry statistics” (Chinese link) and extrapolations based on previous years figures.
However, what is known is that 2019 could have been a lot worse, for China’s solar industry, if not for a whopping 12 GW installed in December – exceeding the 11.4GW installed during the first half of the year.
December’s 12GW took many by surprise, given the relatively lacklustre and slow second half of the year, but conversely, as Frank Haugwitz explains, “a year-end rally is nothing unusual” – though 12GW “still beats all estimates.”
The knock-on effect of the estimate-beating December numbers is that analyst firms such as AECEA are now revising their 2020 predictions, but AECEA currently believes “early indications suggest that during 2020 the Chinese PV market shall experience a rebounding possibly in the order of 15-25% YoY.”
Worth noting is China’s overall power capacity additions in 2019, which increased by a total of 5.8. Of the new capacity additions, 4.17GW of new hydropower was added for an increase of 1.1%, 25.79GW of new wind power was added for an increase of 14%, 40.92GW of new coal power was added for an increase of 4.1%, and 4.06GW of new nuclear power capacity was added for an increase of 9.1%.
Working from the same barometer, solar power increased by 17.4%.