New official figures from China’s National Energy Administration show that the country installed 5.04 GW of new solar capacity in the first quarter of 2015.
The figures, translated by PV-Tech, were published by the National Energy Administration (NEA) this week, and included 4.38 GW of utility-scale solar power plants, as well as 660 MW of distributed generation installations.
That brings China’s total cumulative solar power capacity up to 33.12 GW as of the end of Q1’15. This is made up of 27.79 GW of utility-scale solar, and another 5.3 GW of distributed generation, such as rooftop solar.
China has received some negative attention when it comes to its solar targets of late, having missed both its 2013 and 2014 targets. Mercom Capital released a report earlier this year which highlighted China’s released installation figures, showing the country had installed 10.6 GW in 2014, and 10.95 GW in 2013 — which was retroactively revised down from an originally-reported 12.9 GW.
China’s figures for 2014 were confirmed, however, by the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (PVPS) 3rd edition of the Snapshop of Global PV Markets report, which confirmed China had installed 10.6 GW of solar PV in 2014.
So on the surface, with China already installing over half of what it had in 2014 in the first quarter of 2015 alone, it is looking good for China to substantially pass previous years’ installation targets.
However, a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in April shows that global clean energy investment slumped during the first quarter of 2015, with the blame being laid at the feet of big markets such as China, Europe, and Brazil, with a slowdown in deal-making. According to the report, fewer “large-ticket transactions” took place over the first quarter than a year earlier, with financing for wind projects and public market equity raisings by clean energy companies “particularly subdued” over the quarter.
With this in mind, and Q1 investments inherently being played out throughout the following quarters and into the following years, China may find itself hitting a solar installation lull as a result of decreased investment. It will be difficult to tell until the year plays out just whether the decrease in investments will continue apace, or whether Q1 was an anomaly, and it will be similarly difficult to evaluate until the year has played out whether any decreases in 2015 investment will affect 2015 installation figures.
Regardless, 5.04 GW of new solar capacity installed in 2015 is already an impressive achievement, and sets China well on its way to at least meeting previous years installation figures.