According to recent energy statistics, China installed 34.92 GW of solar from January 2017 to July 2017, exceeding last year’s installation total of 34.54 GW by approximately 380 MW. As a result, by the end of July, China was home to 112.34 GW in solar installations and had already exceeded its thirteenth Five‑Year‑Plan (2016-2020) target of 105 GW of solar PV by 7 GW, or 7 percent.
According to official data released by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), a total 24.4 GW of solar were added in the 1H of 2017 with another 10.52 GW installed in July, though the July total was 3 GW below the total installed in June. Demand is expected to slow down toward the end of Q3, however, Q4 is admittedly challenging to quantify at this stage especially in light of the approaching launch of the national green electricity certificate trading scheme scheduled for November. Pilot programs for this scheme were initiated in 2013 across seven provinces and cities that covered approximately 2,000 businesses and approximately 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually. A nationwide system now aims at a quadrupling the scope of the existing program, thus making it by far the largest carbon trading system in the world.
In light of these developments, the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co. (AECEA) has raised its 2017 forecast and now estimates that China could install 40 GW to 45 GW this year, an increase of about 16-30 percent year-over-year.
From January 2017 to July 2017, solar energy was the top energy source installed in China compared to nuclear, hydro, wind, and thermal power, which respectively added 1.09 GW, 6.69 GW, 7.3 GW, and 18.84 GW. With 34.92 GW installed, solar undoubtedly stands out and is playing an increasingly significant role in China’s overall energy mix. Since 2010, the share of renewables in China’s power mix has increased by 8 percent while the share of coal decreased by 11 percent. Still, coal‑burning facilities accounted for 65 percent of China’s power in 2016. Regardless, energy-related emissions have stagnated since 2013 but that could change with 200 GW of coal-fired power plants scheduled to come online by 2020.
News Contributed by: Frank Haugwitz who is Director of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co. Ltd. (AECEA). Frank is an independent solar energy consultant based in Beijing since 2002. In October 2012, he founded his company “Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co. Ltd. (AECEA). His services include working with individual clients to apply his extensive China photovoltaic energy-focused insights to their specific needs.
Image credit: By WiNG, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Update: Article updated with chart and author