Chinese rooftop PV expected to reach only 1 GW in 2014 rather than 8 GW target

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Photovoltaic industry sources attending this year’s SNEC PV Power Expo in Shanghai have not only expressed doubts that China will achieve its stated goal to install 8 GW of distributed PV this year, but also estimate an even smaller rollout than recent forecasts by leading market analysts.

At a dinner sponsored by California-based Roth Capital Partners on Tuesday, representatives of major Chinese photovoltaic companies and the Chinese Renewable Energy Society (CRES) were more than skeptical about recent estimates that put rooftop solar installations at 4.8 GW and ground-mounted PV at 8 GW.

Industry sources told pv magazine that they reckoned with 6 GWp of ground-mounted PV and just 1 GWp of rooftop solar this year due mainly to the lack of regulations covering government incentives for distributed PV. However, the same sources hope they will be able to build more large-scale plants and push ground-mounted PV capacity up to about 10 MW this year.

The sobering assessment is much lower than recent estimates published by market research group IHS.

In March, the group expressed its own doubts about the Chinese government’s capability to reach its 8 GW rooftop solar target in 2014 and predicted instead that China would install 4.8 GW of rooftop PV and 8 GW of ground-mounted PV this year.

Nevertheless, if local developers have their way, China could see up to 9 to 10 GW of installed ground-mounted, possibly putting it in the range of IHS’s forecast for large-scale solar.

The IHS team is currently at SNEC and is expected to soon offer its own assessment of China’s PV market and projected installations in 2014.