China boosts 2015 solar target by 20%

From 10.5 GW in 2014 to 15 GW in 2015: China’s solar ambitions for this year were always going to require a massive effort for suppliers, developers, regulators and investors. However the solar powerhouse now seems to be intent on expanding on that ambition, with news today that its 2015 solar target will be increased by around 20%.

The NEA published the news of its website today.

"This is good news for the industry," Zhou Ziguang, analyst at Ping An Securities, told Reuters when speaking the target. "The state is hoping to boost solar consumption, although the chance of exceeding the target should not be big."

China missed its 2014 target, particularly in terms of the massive 8 GW of distributed generation (DG) it had hoped to install. DG should be a better fit for the Chinese grid than some of the PV power plants established in the west of the country, where grid infrastructure was lacking.

The 2015 plan does not break down how much of the 17.8 GW targeted should come in the form of DG.

While it is unclear as to whether 17.8 GW is too ambitious and installation numbers will fall short, there are signs that the country’s financial and regulatory landscape appears better equipped to realize the solar ramp up.

The approval process for solar projects has been streamlined, with a clearer role for the provinces having been set out; capital markets are warming to PV; some issues relating to property ownership for rooftop installations have been cleared; provincial regimes are themselves becoming more familiar with solar development; and the NEA has emerged as the key body to drive solar rollout.

Bloomberg reports that the NEA has requested regional departments in 26 provinces to provide plans for solar projects by April. Of the provinces, Hebei is set to see the most aggressive solar rollout with 1.2 GW of capacity having been allocated to it. This is followed by with Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Qinghai and Ningxia all having been allocated 1 GW of capacity. Hebei, in China’s north, is said to be the region with the worst air pollution.