China installed 5.33 GW of solar capacity in the first quarter (Q1) of the calendar year 2021, a 35% year-over-year (YoY) increase compared to 3.95 GW in Q1 2020, according to the latest data from the National Energy Administration (NEA).
However, the figures saw a stark decline of 82%, compared to 29.5 GW in Q4 2020. As per the data released by NEA, the cumulative solar installations in China reached 258.50 GW by the end of Q1 2021. The province of Shandong led the way with a cumulative installation of 23.80 GW, followed closely by Hebei (22.18 GW), Jiangsu (17.23 GW), and Zhejiang (15.54 GW), respectively.
Out of the total solar installations of 5.33 GW in Q1 2021, Shandong province reported installations of 1.05 GW in Q1 2021. The provinces of Shaanxi, Anhui, Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang reported installations of 490 MW, 470 MW, 430 MW, 400 MW, and 370 MW, respectively.
China installed 48.2 GW of solar capacity in 2020, a 60% YoY increase compared to 30.11 GW in 2019. The solar installations in 2020 were the second-largest ever, only behind the 52.8 GW installed in 2017. State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), China’s largest power utility, led the way with 10.28 GW of new solar installations in 2020. SPIC currently has 29.61 GW of operational solar capacity. The rooftop solar installations in China stood at 10.1 GW in 2020. The combined capacity addition of solar and wind stood at 119.9 GW, which can push NEA to announce the target of 120 GW of solar and wind capacity installations in 2021.
In February this year, China’s NEA released a draft version of its envisaged national unified renewable energy power consumption targets for the upcoming decade. According to the draft, the non-hydro power consumption share is slated to reach 25.9% of overall power consumption by 2030. The target for 2021 is 12.7%, a YoY increase of around 1.47%.
Earlier, China had announced its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2060. The country is said to be contributing 28% of global emissions. Wood Mackenzie predicts China’s emissions to fall nearly 60% by 2040 from the 2019 level using electrification, renewables, green hydrogen, and carbon removal technologies. The firm expects China to deploy over a billion tonnes of carbon capture and storage capacity across its power and industrial sectors. These efforts will need to start much earlier and at a larger scale to deliver a carbon-neutral goal by 2060.