China’s solar modules market grows despite the slowdown in its domestic solar industry, says GlobalData
The decline in annual installations of solar photovoltaics (PV) in China does not seem to have had an impact on the country’s solar PV manufacturing industry. The country’s solar PV exports stood at 58 gigawatt (GW) just in the first nine months of 2019, which is a big boost for the industry and this is despite the tariff regime for solar panels implemented by the Trump administration in the US.
Harminder Singh, Director of Power at GlobalData, comments: “In June 2018, the Chinese government released the Solar PV Power Generation Notice, imposing installation caps and reduced the feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar projects in the country. The government notice specified that a cap of 10GW had to be imposed on the distributed generation (DG) projects for the year 2018. China had targeted 13.9GW of utility-scale solar PV projects for deployment in 2018. However, the government order states that the utility-scale target for the year had been abolished, and all regional provinces have been instructed to impose bans on all entities seeking FiTs under the 2018 mechanisms.
“FiTs have also been reduced by RMB 0.05/kWh ($0.0075/kWh) across the board. Consequently, the annual capacity addition, which was 53GW in 2017, dropped to 44GW in 2018 and GlobalData estimates the annual capacity addition in 2019 will drop further to 41GW. The capacity additions are expected to be in the range of 43-45GW during 2020 to 2022, which would lead to increased domestic demand.”
Earlier this year, the federal government of China confirmed an end of FiT program for large scale solar and wind power capacity, while allowing its provincial government to promote subsidized wind and solar power projects. China’s administration is preparing a move to a reverse auction-based subsidy scheme which would encourage utility scale solar project development – but at lower cost and in a more controlled manner.
In July 2019, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) approved 22.78GW of solar capacity in the first solar PV tender. The lowest bid came in at RMB0.2795/kWh ($0.041). A total of 4,338 solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 24.55GW were proposed to be developed, but only 3,921 projects totaling 22.78GW received the official approval. The feed-in-tariffs approved range from RMB 0.2795 ($0.0406)/kWh to RMB 0.55 ($0.08)/kWh.
Singh concludes: “GlobalData figures show that the global solar PV market is expected to see a 13% growth in installations, from 92GW in 2018 to 105GW in 2019. This has been the key reason for the growth in exports from China, considering the cost differential between Chinese and other manufacturers.”