Disadvantaged energy users in China could receive a subsidy of as high as 70% for the installation of solar power facilities.
China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has just released its General Outline for the Solar Power Disadvantaged Support Implementation Plan (Trial) (光伏扶贫实施方案编制大纲（试行）) which envisages a raft of policy measures for expediting the deployment of solar power in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.
These include fiscal payments, the development of specialized service systems and accompanying power grids, as well as improved supervision and regulation of the market.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of the measures proposed by NEA’s new policy plan, however is the provision by local governments of an initial investment subsidy of as high as 35% for solar power projects in support of the disadvantaged.
The national government would in turn provide an initial investment subsidy matching that granted by the local government, with the obvious upshot that the total subsidy for such project could run as high as 70%.
The policy also proposes that local governments provide a similar initial investment subsidy of 20% to large-scale solar plants in support of the disadvantaged, which would also be matched by the national government.
In addition to the provision of subsidies from both local and national governments, solar power projects in support of the disadvantaged could also enjoy access to discounted five-year loans, or ten-year loans in the case of large-scale plants.
Lian Rui, chief solar analyst with energy consultancy IHS, told Caixin News that the joint application of this pair of policy measures could successfully resolve the difficulty that many disadvantaged energy users experience in securing investment capital for solar power facilities, the construction costs for which currently stand at around 10 yuan per watt within China.
While the measures described by the outline are only intended for reference purposes during the drafting of concrete implementation plans in trial policy areas, should they prove effective they could influence the development of subsequent policies by the Chinese government to foster the adoption and usage of solar energy – in particular distributed solar systems that are best suited to users in disadvantaged or rural communities.
The growth of distributed solar energy systems in China continues to lag far behind that of the country’s large-scale solar power plants.
According to data released by the NEA’s Liang Zhipeng at a briefing in mid-February on the state of China’s solar power sector, the country added a total of 10.6 GW in grid-connected solar power installations in 2014, of which only 2.05 GW consisted of distributed systems.
Liang also revealed that China is at present host to a total of 28.05 GW in solar power installations, of which distributed systems comprise only 4.67 GW, or just 16.6%.