China Adds 48.2 GW of Solar Capacity in 2020, its Second Best Year on Record

China has installed 48.2 GW of solar capacity in 2020, a 60% year-over-year increase compared to 30.11 GW in 2019, according to the latest data from the National Energy Administration (NEA). The solar installations in 2020 were the second-largest ever, only behind the 52.8 GW installed in 2017.

From January to September 2020, the country added 18.7 GW of solar capacity, a 17% increase compared to 16 GW installed during the same period in 2019. In the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020, the country installed 29.5 GW of new solar capacity, of which 23.3 GW were installed in December 2020. The rooftop solar installations in China stood at 10.1 GW in 2020.

China solar capacity

China’s cumulative installed capacity reached 252.5 GW at the end of 2020 and exceeded its official 13th five-year-plan target of 105 GW by 140%.

State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), China’s largest power utility, led the way with 10.28 GW of new solar installations in 2020. With this addition, SPIC currently has 29.61 GW of operational solar capacity.

China also installed 71.67 GW of wind capacity in 2020. The country’s cumulative wind capacity stood at 281.72 GW at the end of 2020. Currently, it has over 530 GW of installed solar plus wind capacity, amounting to about 24% of its total power generation capacity of 2200 GW.

The combined capacity addition of solar and wind stood at 119.9 GW in 2020, which can push NEA to announce the target of 120 GW of solar and wind capacity installations in 2021.

According to the Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory (AECEA), national power utilities and state-owned enterprises’ bullishness resulted in such a high number of installations. The high growth of new solar and wind installations was driven by corresponding regulations such as renewable portfolio standard compliance requirements and China’s aim to achieve its carbon emission peak by around 2030.

AECEA said that half of China’s 31 provinces already detailed their 14th five-year-plans to continue to support the enhancement of renewables capacity. Several provinces aim to install 120 GW of solar capacity in the next five years. In contrast, some of these plans do not have clear-cut installation targets.

Last week, the Shanghai Municipality announced that it would release its carbon emission action plan to reach its carbon emissions peak by 2025, five years ahead of the national target.

In September 2020, the world’s largest and growing energy market, China, announced its ambition to transform into a carbon-neutral economy by 2060.