China installed 5.2 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019. When compared to Q1 2018, this was a nearly 40% decline in installation numbers in which China had installed 9.65 GW of solar PV capacity.
According to Frank Haugwitz of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA), “A representative of China’s National Renewable Energy Center announced at an event in Beijing that just 5.2 GW of solar PV power generation capacity was installed during Q1 2019, thus representing a reduction of 46% year-over-year.
According to Haugwitz’s communique, “Indications were made that out of the 5.2 GW installed, the share of newly built utility-scale projects is considered negligible, i.e., the bulk of installations are distributed PV projects.”
Since June 2018, the provincial and city governments, industrial parks, and others have together released dozens of support policies designed to support the local deployment of distributed PV projects. Overall, the significant decline of 46% YoY is reflective of the fact that from June 2018 to until now, no guiding national solar PV policy has been finalized, Haugwitz elaborated. This is the likely reason why investors and developers alike have been reluctant to embark on new projects in an attempt to avoid risks.
Haugwitz pointed out that China’s Electricity Council (CEC) has announced that during January and February 2019 approximately 3.49 GW was installed.
Although a consultation paper outlining the work plan for the construction of unsubsidized (grid-parity) projects for wind and solar PV recently released by China’s National Energy Administration provided clearer development direction, the so-called grid parity projects enjoy the highest priority compared to projects seeking financial support from the state. However, taking various deadlines into account, a final policy might not be released before the beginning or mid of June. Hence, the construction of new projects may resume not before the second half of 2019.
Mercom recently reported that China is eyeing its One Belt One Road Initiative to further the case of renewable energy generation projects and consolidate its position as a leader in this sector. China is the largest solar PV market in the world. The linking of renewables to OBOR will help China gain a foothold in the renewable energy sector in Asia and beyond.