China set to break record in installation of solar capacity

China’s expected new solar capacity in 2022 is on course to reach a record. Total installations are expected to further gain momentum to between 80 gigawatt and 100 GW this year, breaking last year’s record of some 55 GW, said Wang Bohua, Honorary Chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA). China built 30.88 GW of new solar power capacity from January to June, up 137% from a year earlier, while the total installed capacity of solar power increased by 25.8% year-on-year to 340 million kilowatts, Wang said. Investment in the country’s renewable energy market has witnessed rapid development during the first half of this year. Investment in solar power generation projects increased by 283.6% year-on-year to CNY63.1 billion in the first six months, said the National Energy Administration (NEA).

Photovoltaic module exports were also rising, with the volume reaching 78.6 GW in the first six months, up 74% year-on-year, while the total export of PV products also hit a new high of around USD25.9 billion, up 113% year-on-year, the CPIA said. An analyst said the rocketing growth, both in investment and newly added installed capacity, was a result of supportive domestic policies for new energy development in the country as it’s in full swing to transition to a low-carbon society.

More than 90% of the European market's solar component supply is coming from China, leading to consistent surging exports of Chinese solar components, despite the climbing raw material costs, said Jiang Yali, Solar Analyst at BloombergNEF. While surging energy prices are also driving large-scale utility installation, Europe needs to rely on China in the short-to-mid-term due to its relatively small scale of manufacturing capacity, Jiang said.

China, the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy as well as the largest domestic and outbound investor in renewable energy, is already leading in renewable energy production, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. New rules to restrict solar developers from building on arable land or coastlines and riverbanks, could however threaten future capacity growth. To more than double its renewables capacity to 1,200 GW by 2030, up from 635 GW at the end of last year, China has been developing large-scale renewable energy bases in desert regions to fully take advantage of the sufficient solar and wind resources in the regions.

The country’s total installed capacity for renewable energy generation rose to 1.1 billion kW during the last 10 years, with the generation capacity of hydropower, wind, solar and biomass ranking at the top in the world, the NEA said. The combined installed capacity of wind and solar power has reached 670 million kW, almost 90 times that in 2012, cementing China's role as a global leader in renewable energy capacity growth. During the 14th Five Year Plan period (2021-25), China’s renewable energy generation capacity is expected to account for more than 50% of the total and the generation capacity for wind and solar power is to be doubled, the China Daily reports.