China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has announced that between January to September 2019, the country added 16 GW of solar capacity, a decrease of 45% year-over-year (YoY) from the 44 GW of capacity added in the same period last year.
The 16 GW of capacity added in the first nine months of the year includes 7.73 GW of ground-mounted utility-scale projects and 8.26 GW of distributed solar systems.
Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co. Ltd (ACECA) notes that, during the third quarter, just 4.59 GW was installed compared to ~ 10 GW in 2018.
According to AECEA Director Frank Haugwitz, the reasons for this significant reduction in installations include, “the relatively late releases and decisions of policies and approved capacities, meeting relatively long lead times to develop a new project, new approaches like a national unified bidding system, continuously falling module prices, which may have induced developers ignoring an RMB 0.01/kWh (~$0.00141) higher feed-in-tariff (FiT) if installed before December 31, 2019, among others.”
On May 20, 2019, a total of 14.78 GW of grid-parity projects were approved, and on July 10, 2019, a further 22.78 GW of FiT-supported projects were officially announced in China.
In January 2019, China’s NEA came up with the report, which provided the first indication of how the domestic PV market is expected to evolve in the future, especially during 2019/2020. The market is in a transition phase from a 100% subsidy-driven phase towards a 100% subsidy-free phase starting January 1, 2021, which also coincides with the 14th Five-Year-Plan (2021-2025).
Capacity deployment fell even though 920 MW of residential PV systems were deployed in September alone, exceeding the official full-year target of 3.5 GW by about 700 MW (4.27 GW).
AECEA also noted that the cumulative solar power capacity as of September 2019 stood at 190 GW, which is higher than the 13th Five-Year-Plan (2016-2020) target of 105 GW by a good 80%. AECEA expects up to 5 GW of residential PV systems to be installed between January and October 2019 as they are still eligible for RMB 0.18/kWh FiT if installed before October 31. Residential PV may enjoy FiTs even beyond 2021, the note added.
The newly installed capacity in the north and northeast China is about 5 GW and 512 MW respectively, the northwest region saw installations of 4.3 GW, and in east China, there were installations of 3.3 GW. Central China installed 1.8 GW while in southern China, the installations were around 955 MW.
Previously, Mercom reported that the NEA approved 22.78 GW of Feed-in Tariff (FiT) based on solar projects in China. These solar PV projects are expected to be grid-connected by December 2019. They have been approved under China’s first national unified bidding for solar projects seeking feed-in-tariffs. A total of 4,338 solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 24.55 GW were proposed to be developed, but only 3,921 projects totaling 22.78 GW had received the official approval. Apart from these, 417 proposed solar projects with a capacity of approximately 1.77 GW had not been approved.
In June 2019, China’s cumulative installed solar capacity stood at nearly 180 GW, the country added around 5.2 GW of new solar projects in the first quarter of 2019.
China is the largest solar market in the world, followed by the U.S. and India.