China has installed 25.56 GW of new solar capacity in the first nine months (9M) of 2021, according to the latest data released by the National Energy Administration (NEA). Installations saw a 36.68% year-over-year (YoY) increase compared to 18.7 GW installed during the same period last year.
The cumulative solar installations in China has now reached 278 GW.
In the third quarter (Q3) of 2021, the country installed 12.54 GW of new solar capacity, a 288.23% growth compared to 3.23 GW in Q3 2020.
In September 2021, China installed 3.51 GW of new solar capacity, a 14.59% month-over-month decline compared to 4.11 GW installed in the previous month. The country witnessed an installation peak in July 2021 and installed 4.93 GW of new solar capacity. In the past two months, the decline in new capacity additions was due to the growing polysilicon prices and, consequently, rising solar module costs.
According to Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA), the polysilicon price has continuously declined since early 2018 and reached an all-time low level of RMB 56 (~$8.71)/kilogram (kg) in April-May 2020. However, the prices have continued to increase since April 2020, and the latest transaction price amounted to RMB 270 (~$42)/kg. AECEA estimates that China will add 50-55 GW capacity by 2021, crossing cumulative 300 GW capacity.
Manufacturers in China have reduced production output due to the high-price regime. Of 26 modules and 52 cell production lines, the average capacity factor was 46% and 43%, respectively. However, the capacity factor of cell lines was around 30% higher before the national holiday week.
Out of the 30 provinces, 20 provinces and regions have imposed power restrictions ranging from just one or two weeks to several months, or even until September 2022. However, it is not clear if photovoltaic manufacturers will be exempted from power restrictions or not, given its strategic relevance and importance.
In September 2021, the rooftop solar installations in China stood at 2.14 GW, a 64.61% increase compared to 1.3 GW installed in the same period last year. With this, China installed a total of 11.68 GW of rooftop solar capacity in the first nine months of 2021. The province of Shanghai led the way with 699 MW of rooftop solar capacity addition in September, followed by Hebei with installations of 579 MW. The province of Henan added a residential solar capacity of 323 MW.
Harsh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.