China installed 24.4 GW of solar in first half of 2017, shows official NEA data

China’s first half (H1) solar showing for 2017 was exceptionally strong, with official data published over the weekend by the National Energy Administration (NEA) showing that 24.4 GW was installed during the first six months of the year.

This figure represents an annual year-on-year (YOY) increase of 9%. Most striking were the data for June, which saw 13.5 GW added – some 55.3% of the entire H1 total – amounting to a 16% YOY increase.

The reason for this rush can be traced to the June 30 FIT reduction deadline, which compelled developers to finalize and connect their solar farms before that date in order to attract the more generous tariff.

The NEA statistics also broke down the type of installation and found that H1 saw 17.29 G of utility-scale solar added in China, with the remaining 7.11 GW accounted for by the distributed (rooftop) sector.

The Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory (AECEA), a China-based solar analyst, examined the data further and found that three provinces alone are responsible for driving 54.2% of all rooftop solar development – Anhui (1.38 GW), Zhejiang (1.25 GW) and Shandong (1.23 GW).

Cumulatively, China now has 101.82 GW of installed solar PV capacity, and encouragingly the national curtailment rate was 37 billion kWh as of June 30 – a reduction of 4.5% YOY. However, some regions and provinces are still embroiled in unsustainably high curtailment solar rates – rising to 26% in Xinjiang and 22% in Gansu.

AECEA believes that China is on course to surpass last year’s installation figure of 34.54 GW, with the share of distributed generation expected to increase in 2018 – partly because next year’s FIT reductions make it even more imperative for developers to avoid curtailment, and distributed generation is inherently built in areas with a robust grid and good connection, hence the shift.