China Adds 18.7 GW of Solar Capacity in First Nine Months of 2020

China has installed 18.7 GW of solar capacity in the first nine months of 2020, an increase of 17% compared to 16 GW installed during the same period in 2019, according to the latest data from the National Energy Administration (NEA).

Large-scale solar installations accounted for 10.04 GW, and distributed solar accounted for the remaining 8.66 GW.

China’s cumulative installed solar capacity reached 223 GW at the end of September 2020. In the first half of the year, China had installed 11.52 GW of solar.

China recently announced its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2060. China is said to be contributing 28% of global emissions.


North China, with 8 GW of new solar capacity installations, and East China, with 3.5 GW, recorded more new solar installations compared to the other parts of the country. At the same time, the north-western region of China and the north-eastern region of China installed around 1.97 GW and 1.27 GW of new solar capacities, respectively. The total installed solar capacity of South China reached 2.4 GW, with 1.93 GW of new installations.

China Solar PV Installations (MW), 2010 - 9M 2020

According to the NEA data, the solar power generation capacity stood at 2,005 TW, a year-on-year increase of 16%. The national solar photovoltaic (PV) utilization figure stood at 916 hours, a year-on-year increase of 6 hours. Northeast China recorded the highest solar PV utilization hours, reaching 1,141 hours. While the average solar PV utilization hours in North China were 1,010 hours.

China added 1.3 GW of residential rooftop solar capacity in September 2020, taking the total capacity installed in the first nine months of the year to 5.27 GW.

In September, a report by the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA) forecasted China’s solar installations to reach 28-34 GW in 2020. The report highlighted that 2020 is also the last year of China’s ongoing 13th Five-Year-Plan (2016-2020).

In another projection, the National New Energy Consumption Monitoring and Early Warning Center announced that China was likely to add 48.45 GW of solar capacity to its grid in 2020. Considering the two forecasts, the installations in the final quarter of 2020 are expected to be aggressive. This happened in 2019, too, when the country had 16 GW of installations in the first nine months, and then there was 14 GW installed in the final quarter.

Image credit: Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash