China hits 9.9 GW of solar by Q3, says NEA

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Data published this week by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has revealed that 9.9 GW of new solar PV capacity was installed in the country in the first nine months of the year up to September 30.

This figure is more than double the 3.79 GW of new capacity added at the same stage in 2014, but still leaves the country playing catch-up if it hopes to hit the government’s recently increased annual installation target of 23.1 GW.

At the midway point of the year, China had installed 7.7 GW of solar PV capacity, and despite growing delays in grid connection in many parts of the country, managed to inch that figure close to double figures over the summer.

The NEA is hoping to hit 150 GW of cumulative solar PV capacity by 2020, but must overcome current and growing congestion challenges on the grid. According to NEA data, 10% of China’s installed PV capacity sat idle over the first three quarters of the year, with some provinces forced to leave more than one quarter of their solar capacity offline.

Gansu province is the most badly affected, with 28% of solar capacity deemed out of service, while Xinjiang province – which leads the nation in volume of PV installed – has left one-fifth of its capacity offline all year as it struggles to integrate this growing renewable source.

Joanna Lewis, professor of science, technology and international affairs at Georgetown University in the U.S., told pv magazine last week that while it is likely that China will meet its 2020 installation target, it must get to grips with these widespread curtailment issues.

"It is widely expected that power sector reforms being gradually rolled out will help renewables compete better with traditional electricity sources," Lewis said.