Chinese government stands firm in face of PV industry lobbying


Lobbying attempts by the world’s big solar players to attempt to persuade the Chinese government to soften its move to curtail solar deployment met with only marginal success this week.

The Chinese authorities announced a week ago an immediate halt to further subsidized ground-mount projects this year, as well as introducing a 10 GW cap – which analysts believe may already have been passed – on subsidized distributed generation (DG) schemes. The government also reduced the national PV FIT by CNY0.05 ($0.0078) with immediate effect.

The abrupt policy announcement sent shockwaves around the global PV industry, given China’s unchallenged position as the world’s biggest solar superpower, and leaders of the nation’s biggest PV companies signed an open letter to the Xinhua news agency to voice their concerns.

Industry leaders stated a sympathy with the government’s desire to reduce the level of subsidies paid out of the public purse, and to better regulate DG installation, but argued the abrupt curtailment of previously guaranteed projects would cause unjustified hardship and that a grace period should be used to effect the proposed changes.

There was only slight movement in Beijing however, with the government responding on Monday and China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) and the National Energy Administration (NEA) confirming all projects in receipt of quota permission last year, and which can be connected to the grid by the end of this month, will have their 2017 quota subsidies honored. It is estimated that slight concession will add around 4-5 GW of new capacity by the end of the month, such is the scale of the Chinese market.

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But further lobbying efforts by representatives of the likes of Sungrow, Trina Solar, Tongwei, Longi, Jinko and CSI – whose top executives were in Beijing to meet the director of the government’s new energy department on Wednesday – have thus far fallen on deaf ears. A press release issued after the meeting contained no new concessions and there has been no official response as yet to a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), signed by 52 residential PV companies including CSI, Sungrow and Chint.

With analysts at the recent, record-breaking SNEC expo in Shanghai speculating the Chinese market could be close to, or even surpass last year’s landmark 53 GW of new PV capacity, industry watchers are now warning the figure for 2018 could plummet as far as 28-35 GW, thanks to Beijing’s dramatic intervention.

Author: Vincent Shaw

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