China added almost 4 GW of solar in first quarter despite Covid-19

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China added 3.95 GW of new solar generation capacity in the first quarter despite the ravages of the Covid-19 crisis in the country.

The quarterly energy report released by the National Energy Administration (NEA) revealed a year-on-year fall in new solar capacity of 24% with 2.23 GW of new large scale PV deployed plus 1.72 GW of small, distributed generation systems.

The province of Guangdong added the most new PV capacity, with 600 MW to the end of March, followed by Inner Mongolia, with 470 MW, Zhejiang (360 MW), Shanxi (290 MW) and Shandong (280 MW).

The geographical shift of solar facilities from the north and west of the nation to population centers in the south and east continued, according to the NEA, with 61.7% of new capacity added in the latter areas. The state grid was one of the first sectors to come out of coronavirus mitigation measures, according to the NEA, and several ultra-high voltage power transmission lines between the north and west of the country and its southern and eastern cities were started in late March and early April.

Total power consumption in the first quarter was 6.5% lower than during Q1 last year, at 1.57 PWh. That slowdown prompted a 40.8% rise in the rate of curtailment of solar power, with 1.75 TWh wasted. The NEA expects the curtailment rate to have reduced during the current three-month window as the reopening of industry has seen power consumption rebound.

Although the NEA figures did not include information on rooftop solar specifically, the National Renewable Energy Information Management Center research institute of the Power Construction Corporation of China has reported 259 MW of rooftop systems were grid connected and added to the national subsidy catalog in the first three months of the year.

Covid-19

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This article was amended on 25/05/20 to reflect total power consumption in China was 6.5% lower in the first three months of the year than in the same period of last year, not 6.5% higher, as previously stated.