IHS revises up outlook for Chinese solar to 40 GW after underestimating demand

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New PV systems with an aggregate capacity of 34.5 GW were connected in China in the first nine months of this year. As a result, China’s cumulative installed solar capacity has reached 165 GW.

That is 1.5 GW more than IHS Markit analysts had predicted and, as a result, they have raised their 37 GW estimate for newly installed capacity this year to 40 GW.

China’s National Energy Agency (NEA) is discussing raising its 2020 solar expansion target from its current 105 GW to as much as 210-270 GW. IHS Markit expects China’s cumulative PV capacity to reach 255 GW by the end of 2020. Its assumption is based on a further 40 GW of new annual capacity over the next two years.

IHS says further clarifications could be made by its analysts once the government announces a decision.

At the end of May, the Chinese government decided to curb the expansion of PV by reducing solar incentives. That led to reduced project development in the second half, IHS analysts noted, with China having installed 53 GW during a record-busting 2017.

Demand stil fuels Chinese dragon

However despite this year’s policy setback, a decline in module prices has continued to drive demand more than anticipated by analysts.

IHS Markit believes China may even double its 2020 target, as a consequence of its determination to be the world leader in renewable energy development.

That determination also applies to the production of solar cells and modules and the challenge will be to design a policy able to reduce PV project costs, especially in the regions of China which have high demand, the analysts wrote.

It will be Beijing’s goal to avoid any increase in public subsidy payments currently at around $17 billion, and IHS Markit expects further support for decentralized PV systems for self-consumption, tenders or low feed-in tariffs – as well as other Top Runner, quality-focused programs – as part of the new 2020 expansion target.