Cumulative solar installations in China over the second quarter (Q2) of this year could be as high as 18 GW, driving an annual installation capacity forecast of around 35 GW, says Corrine Lin, a Taiwan-based independent solar analyst and member of pv magazine’s insights and investigations team.
Lin’s forecast suggests that China’s first half (H1) installation figures are in the region of 22 – 25 GW, with Q2 proving a particularly robust period domestically as full utilization rates worked overtime to plug a cell and module shortfall between May and June, culminating in a mid-year installation rush.
However, at the end of July demand is expected to drop off sharply, Lin says, with far fewer installations in the second half (H2) of the year compared to H1.
After July, demand for conventional monocrystalline solar modules is expected to cool, while mono-PERC products will remain in high demand for a few months yet, Lin stressed. “Multicrystalline demand is, for now, still strong, and while mono product demand will decline steeply after July once the installation rush ends, mono-PERC and multi will remain a hot commodity,” said Lin.
In the distributed generation (DG) sector, Q2 installations are expected to be similar to those registered in Q1 – in the region of 2.4 GW.
The installation rush came ahead of the June 30 FIT reduction in China. Looking ahead, Lin expects the new tariff rates and future support policies to be announced shortly, perhaps in August. “The market expectation is that next year’s H1 rush will not be as strong, leading to a more balanced and stable year, quarter-over-quarter,” Lin said.
This year, delays to FIT payments had shaken confidence in parts of China’s domestic solar market, and Lin warned that the situation appears to be getting worse, not better. This is fuelling fears that China’s renewable energy fund could be negatively impacted. To allay these fears, Lin concludes, the government is seeking ways to improve the Green Certificate program.