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Clean Power solar energy investment china

Published on July 2nd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

July 2nd, 2012 by  

solar energy investment china

The global solar marketplace has a huge glut of solar panels and solar cells. This is the top reason why solar panel prices have plunged in the past year or so. And China’s tremendous manufacturing output is certainly a big part of that oversupply.

Now, it seems the country is looking to help relieve that glut a lot more by quadrupling its 2015 solar power targets! The new 2015 target is reportedly 21 GW of installed solar power capacity. This is quadruple its initial 2015 target. (Though, notably, a little more than one year ago, the country doubled its target to 10 GW, and it increased it again to 15 GW in December.)

To put that into perspective, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) at the end of 2011 were:

  1. Germany — 24.7 GW
  2. Italy — 12.8 GW
  3. Japan — 4.9 GW
  4. Spain — 4.4 GW
  5. USA — 4.4 GW

China had about 3.1 GW.

Italy installed the most new solar power capacity last year at about 9.3 GW.

China’s target also includes concentrating solar thermal power plants, 1 GW worth, but that leaves 20 GW of its target for solar PV.

These details were passed along to Bloomberg by phone today, and the official announcement/plan is supposed to be coming soon.

When China’s 2015 solar target was 5 GW, its 2020 solar target was 20 GW. It’s nice to see it has really stepped on the gas and increased that target by 5 years. But at this rate of change, perhaps the 2015 target will reach 25 or 30 GW in six months.

“The government has considered an increase since last year as solar panel makers led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. suffer from cuts in European subsidies and a global supply glut that drove prices lower,” Bloomberg reported.

“With a significant tumble in photovoltaic prices, the timetable for mass use is ahead of time,” said Lian Rui, a senior analyst for the research company Solarbuzz. “The new target is still very conservative; we expect the installation to surpass 30 gigawatts.”

Yep, you read that right. 20 GW is just a target — the expectation is that the country will actually hit 30 GW by 2015. I’m just going to go out on a limb and predict another big increase in its 2015 target sometime around December.

Combined with Japan’s big feed-in tariff news last month, the global solar industry must be feeling pretty good right now, and I wonder if we could ‘soon’ see the solar power leaders shift from Europe to Asia.

Here are some more details on solar policies and trends in China from Bloomberg:

China has offered financial assistance for projects under the so-called Golden Sun program since 2009 to stimulate renewable energy. The nation in May chose GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd., Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and about 100 other developers of projects with 1.7 gigawatts of combined capacity to be eligible for a subsidy of 5.5 yuan a watt under the program in 2012.

In January, Suntech Chief Executive Officer Shi Zhengrong and Trina CEO Gao Jifan said China may double its installations of solar panels this year, absorbing excess production that depressed prices and profit margins in 2011.

JinkoSolar Holding Co. expects the domestic market to account for as much as 12 percent of sales this year, double that of a year earlier, Chief Executive Officer Chen Kangping said in April. Yingli Chairman Miao Liansheng said in May China will account for 30 percent of revenue this year, while Germany and the U.S. currently make up about 80 percent of its sales.

Pretty good news to start off the month. What’s your take on this? And what do you think China will really hit in 2015? Maybe we should take some bets. 😀

Source: Renewable Energy World/Bloomberg
Image Credit: China & solar panel via shutterstock

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Pingback: China to Double 2015 Solar PV Target to 40 GW - CleanTechnica()

  • Ronald Brak

    More solar means less coal, which means clearer Chinese skies, which results in increased solar generation.  A very virtuous circle.

  • Ronald Brak

    Bob, ran out of space to reply.  In case you missed it, it now costs China $90 a tonne to import thermal coal.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Does $90 get it to where they need to burn it? Their coal is pretty cheap out of the mine, but the price of oil was making it expensive by the time it arrived in their manufacturing centers.

      • yeah, quite curious about the profit now. 120 down to 90 is a lot.

        • Ronald Brak

          Well, not really.  It was only three years ago it was $62 a tonne.  China’s slow down is the immediate cause of the fall in coal prices, but high prices resulted in increased coal production in various countries and so increased supply has also lowered the price.  Now that China has introduced a generous solar feed in tariff thermal coal will never go back to $120 a tonne. 

      • Ronald Brak

        Well, yes.  The price of thermal coal is $90 a tonne at a port and there is a lot of people and industry near China’s ports and electricity can be transmitted a fair distance.

        • Ronald Brak

          I will mention that the situation is not simple.  China imports huge amounts of coal, but is also a coal exporter.  It ships in low sulphur coal from Australia and other places and exports high sulphur coal.  China needs low sulphur coal because in many Chinese cities weather conditions like the London inversion have the potential to kill tens of thousands in days.   

  • Pingback: Germany Sets a New Solar Power Record - 14.7 TWh in 6 months - CleanTechnica()

  • Bill_Woods

    “China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!”

    Raising the 2015 target from 15 to 21 GW isn’t quadrupling it — it’s a 40% increase.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Gee, Bill.  Do you have to use selective reading just in order to be negative?

      quadruple its initial 2015 target “

    • quadrupling of its initial 2015 target (from just about a year ago).

  • Sirsparks Eletrical

    With your link showing 
    Germany — 301.470 (Mw per million people)  That is great but still only 301 watts per person and perhaps only 10% of what is needed (excluding commercial) We all have a long long way to go.  Personally I have 2,000 watts and it is barely enough.

  • Sirsparks Eletrical

    Who’ll give me 10 to 1 on 50 gigawatts  ?

    • Bob_Wallace

      First, I’d like to know the cost of coal-produced electricity in China.  Much higher than what it costs in the US, I suspect. 

      China’s added a lot of hydro.  Solar + hydro might be cheaper than coal for them.  If so, look for lots of solar (and wind) to come on line.

      The leaders of China, unlike some of our politicians, can do math.

      • Ronald Brak

        In the margin coal power costs about 6 cents a kilowatt-hour in China before distribution costs and ignoring externalities.  I know this because they currently pay about $90 a tonne to import thermal coal.  But for a coal plant sitting right next to a domestic coal mine, the cost will be considerably less. 

        • Bob_Wallace

          Distribution can be a problems in China.  Are their coal mines not a long way from their manufacturing centers?

          You’ve read this?


          • Ronald Brak

            Imported thermal coal currently costs $90 a tonne off a ship at the Chinese coast.  Very roughly that gives a prices of about six cents a kilowatt-hour ignoring all externalities.  In Australia most power plants paid a marginal cost of perhaps as little as $2.50 per tonne of coal because they generally sit right next to a coal mine and the coal is dumped on a conveyor belt and taken straight to the coal plant.  (This week it effectively increased to $60+ a tonne due to our carbon tax.)  So basically at the moment we are looking at six cents a kilowatt-hour at the Chinese coast and a couple of cents a kilowatt-hour in a coal producing area.  In between areas could be considerably more due to transport costs.

            Of course the real cost of burning coal is much higher due to its massive externalities.

          • Bob_Wallace

             “China’s vast reserves near Inner Mongolia can be mined for $25 a ton. But by the time it travels by rail across North China, then by sea to southern coastal cities, thecost rises to more than $125 a ton.”
            “There is cheap coal in the Powder River Basin, in part because U.S. demand for coal is slumping as American power companies shift to cheaper and cleaner natural gas or renewables. Peabody Energy Inc. would love to ship its surplus Wyoming coal to Asia, if it can get it there. Peabody promises investors that it can make money shipping coal to China — precisely because it expects the price to remain at $120 or more. ”

            “What does $120-a-ton coal mean for the development plans of India and China? At $120 a ton, electricity from coal costs about 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, before installing pollution controls. But India and China built their economic plans on 4 cents-a-kilowatt-hour power, presuming that cheap Indonesian coal would keep the price down.”

            From the Bloomberg link above….

          • Ronald Brak

            The days of $120 a tonne coal are over.  The immediate cause is the Chinese slow down, but with PV at its current cost $120 coal will never return, barring an extreme set of circumstances.  The spot price for exported Australian thermal coal is currenty $90.15 Australian.  Very roughly this gives a cost of about 6 cents a kilowatt-hour.  

    • haha 😀

  • Ross

    3GW to 21GW in 3 years is almost doubling every year (1.91).
    If they choose to keep that up till they’ll get to 180GW of solar by 2020.

    • haha, we can wish. 😀

      • Ross

        I miscalculated! 

        x = (21GW/3GW)^(1/3) = 1.911.91^8 = 177So it’s actually 3GW * 177 = 531GW  in 2020.

  • Bob_Wallace

    China is realizing that coal is not cheap.  Both their domestic coal and imported coal have to be hauled long distances to get to where they need to generate the electricity.  The price of oil has made coal expensive.

    It must make sense to generate a lot of solar electricity close to point of use and reduce oil/coal use.  

    And when the smoke settles the Chinese solar industry is likely to be very strong.  They will have enjoyed a few years of strong support which allow their industry to mature.

    The Chinese government is working to make their country stronger.

    The only way we can keep up with China is to cut taxes.

    Oh, ….

    • Ross

      I see they’re planning on building a railway from Mongolia for coal     but that is for coking coal used in steel making.

    • Yeah, no matter what your complaints, China’s looking like a real leader these days… reminds me of the US of yesteryear.

  • Captivation

    Maybe this list contains the answer that Rio couldn’t find.  Maybe we need to have a world solar event where world leaders are forced to visit Germany and pay homage to superior ecological planning.  After one or two conferences, I imagine a frenzy to at least approach Germany competence.  Nobody will want the humiliation of being at the bottom of the list. 

    • Haha, certainly!

      Unfort, Germany’s neighbor (Poland) IS at the bottom of the list (of countries with at least a bare minimum of solar), and I’m sure folks from here have visited Germany. 😀

  • Mike Diethelm

    Thank you for the post Mr. Shahan. It’s wonderful news that China is doing the local thing. Amidst all that bad press about China’s true intentions, I am a true believer in overproducing solar panels.

    • Thanks! And me too. 😀 Overproduction of solar panels is one of the best things that happened in the solar industry, imho. 😀

      • Scott

        I couldn’t agree more. It’s a shame that the same strategy can’t be used for the EV market. Well I’m not sure if it’s a strategy, but it sure seems like one according to my agenda!

        • Bob_Wallace

          We probably have a little bit of that operating with EVs.  I’m pretty sure that more battery plants were built than the market can keep fully occupied at the moment.

          That’s likely to cause downward pressure on prices.  Companies will operate with no profit or even losses in order to stay alive while the economy comes back.

  • Kjw

    Good for them! Pretty pathetic that the us is so low on that list. The USA is in major debt and could clearly benefit from long term cost saving panning as this.

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