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Published on December 13th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


China’s New Solar Target: 40 GW By 2015 (8 Times More Than Its Initial 5 GW Target)

December 13th, 2012 by  

It’s been pretty astounding to watch China essentially double its 2015 solar target three times in the past year and a half or so. Each step of the way, what’s clear is that solar power keeps getting more and more competitive… fast.

solar energy investment china

Image Credit: China & solar panel via Shutterstock

Before this week, China’s latest 2015 solar target increase was in July, when the official target was brought up to 21 GW. Then, just a couple months later (in September), it was rumored that China was going to increase the target to 40 GW. Now, all the buzz is that’s finally happening.

Giles Parkinson of Renew Economy writes: “Talk out of China suggests that official bodies in that country are finally ready to lift their target for the deployment of solar to 40GW by 2015.”

He also cites this interesting stat: “Just 18 months ago, the 2015 target for 2015 was just 5GW. But more than that has been installed this year alone.” More than the initial target has been installed in 2012 alone. Pretty astounding, eh?

This is, for one, a sign of China’s tremendous focus on clean energy, as well as its tremendous overall economic and energy growth. But it’s also a sign that solar power has arrived. Solar has many benefits, and now that its price has dropped to a competitive rate in many places (and is still dropping), those benefits are catapulting it above competing options.

Here’s more from Giles on this week’s news:

“Deutsche Bank analysts noted that the updated forecast suggests that more than 10GW of solar will be installed in China in each of the next three years. Assuming that solar deployment will continue to increase rather than slow; that suggests a cumulative total of well over 100GW by 2020.

“On Tuesday, the government announced that the total amount of projects approved under the 2nd batch of its Golden Sun program was 2.8GW, well ahead of the 2GW expected, taking this year’s allocation to 4.5GW.”

Another key point noted in the Renew Economy piece was that oversupply of solar modules and solar module components (especially in China), which is partly triggered by cuts in solar feed-in tariffs in Europe, is further stimulating solar-friendly policies and deployment in the world’s largest country.

With the 2015 target increased from 5 GW to 10 GW in June 2011, from 10 GW to 15 GW in December 2011, from 15 GW to 21 GW in July 2012, and now from 21 GW to 40 GW, does anyone want to make a prediction what the 2015 target will be when Summer 2013 rolls around?

Putting 40 GW Into Perspective

As I did back in July, why don’t we put the current 41 GW target into a bit of perspective. At the end of 2011, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) 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

In other words, 41 GW of solar power is really a big deal.

US solar installations at the end of Q3 already broke the US record for previous years. That record? Nearly 2 GW. In total, 2012 installations are expected to hit about 3.2 GW, and that will bring cumulative US solar capacity to over 7 GW. That sounded like a lot on Tuesday, but China’s expected 4.5 GW this year definitely raises the bar.

And what about China’s 2020 target, which was 20 GW back when its 2015 target was 5 GW? We’ll have to wait and see.

Before closing off with this good news, here’s one more thing to consider: the 2015 target is simply a target, with the country expecting to surpass the target by a good amount. Let’s hope those expectations just keep on increasing. 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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