By Vincent Shaw
Last Friday China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) released the solar development plan for the 13th five-year period, which will end in 2020. In the document, the top energy management department adjusted the nation’s PV installation target from the previous 150GW to more conservative 105GW.
This plan is based on the Energy Development Plan for the entire country and will be the basic guiding document for China’s government from the central to the provincial level regarding the development of solar energy including PV and solar thermal power from 2016 to 2020.
The document sets several targets for China’s PV industry. Despite the adjusted installation goal, the government calls on industry to reduce the price of electricity from PV by at least 50% in 2020 compared to 2015 prices, and to increase the conversion ratio for advanced silicon cells in mass production to over 23%.
After a big rush of ground-mounted PV plants in the first half of 2016, and also due to increasing curtailment of PV plants, ground-mounted PV projects are no longer encouraged and will be managed by quotas. However, distributed PV will be supported.
There is also a list which indicates a focus on provinces for PV development in following years. Most of the provinces prioritized are in Eastern China on the coast and several others are around Beijing. One reason for this could be to meet the power consumption of Beijing, while increasing clean energy utilization and reducing the city’s heavy smog.
China installed an estimated 30 GW of solar PV in 2016. If this estimate holds true, considering the existing 43GW installed by the end of 2015 there is only 32GW left for the entire country in the following 4 years. Fortunately, the target of 105GW is a minimum level.