China triples H1 solar installations to 20 GW


China’s solar surge has accelerated drastically in the first half (H1) of this year, with data published by state news agency Xinhua suggesting that the country added 20 GW of new PV capacity in the six months to June 30.

Citing Wang Bohua, general secretary of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), the largest solar industry lobby in China, Xinhua reports that China has extended its lead over Germany as the world’s largest solar market in terms of cumulative figures.

Wang said that developers of solar were compelled to complete installations ahead of a proposed reduction in the price paid for PV by grid operators, which after June 30 this year reduced below 1.0 yuan ($0.15) per kilowatt hour (kWh). This deadline created the first half rush, and leaves some commentators of the opinion that the second half of the year will see something of a “solar chill” as installation rates fall off a cliff.

Having ended 2015 with 43 GW of cumulative solar PV installed, this latest data would suggest that China now has approximately 63 GW of solar capacity completed, although not all of that capacity will be connected to the grid given the recent curtailment concerns in the western provinces, where surplus capacity has reached 52% in Xinjiang and 39% in Gansu.

The CPIA also said that the production of PV modules in China increased by 37.8% in the first half of the year, reaching 27 GW and helping to spur profit margins among the major manufacturers to an average of 5%. Last year those margins averaged out at 4.85%.

Should the data be accurate then China has already reached its goal, set by the National Energy Administration (NEA), of installing 18.1 GW of new PV in 2016, with the CPIA calculating that new additions should hit 30 GW once rooftop and charitable installs in impoverished areas are taken into account.

Solar power output in the country now stands at 3,300 Gwh, according to the National Statistics Bureau – a figure that represents just 0.7% of the country’s total power generation.