Clean Power china renewable energy

Published on July 26th, 2015 | by Anand Upadhyay


China 2020 Solar Energy Target = 200 Gigawatts (Rumor)

July 26th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Solar Love.

While I’m sure it does not match up to the glory of 8 on the luckiness index, the number 13 is considered quite lucky in China. In Mandarin, “13” is pronounced as “shisan,” which can mean “definitely vibrant” or “assured growth.”

And vibrant is exactly how one would describe China’s solar market. But does the sector has “assured growth?” You bet.

Image Credit: China Solar Cells via Wikimedia Commons

PV Magazine recently reported that China, as part of its 13th five-year plan, is considering a solar target of 200 GW by 2020. If you have been following recent reports, that’s the milestone globally installed solar PV capacity is expected to cross in the (very) near future.

In 2009, while drafting its 12th five-year plan, China had envisioned a solar goal of 5 GW. That too by 2015. And we all know how that went!

Following several rounds of revisions, the target for the 12th plan was finally hiked to 35 GW. However, by the end of Q1’15, China’s total cumulative solar power capacity had already reached 33.12 GW.

With the annual target for 2015 set at 17.8 GW, the question to ask is not whether China will meet its current five-year goal, but by how much it will exceed it.

China is expected to cross 45 GW — 20% higher than its national target — and overtake Germany (in terms of installed capacity) in the process by this year’s end.

Coming back to the 13th five-year plan, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), which is the nodal government agency in the matters of energy policy, has chalked out a 100 GW target for solar PV by 2020.

However, it is widely speculated that when the plan is actually announced, this would be raised to an optimistic 200 GW.

A recent study published by Energy Research Institute and the State Grid Energy Research Institute expects that, under a high-penetration scenario, renewables will meet 57% of its power needs in 2030, growing to 86% renewables by 2050, all at the same time as China’s economy grows sevenfold.

The report forecasts that solar power in China will reach a capacity of 157 GW by 2020, and cross 1000 GW by 2030.

Let’s say China reaches 45 GW by the end of 2015. The country would still need to install more than 30 GW of PV capacity each year. Apart from the investment of $30–35 billion per year, this would require vast tracts of suitable land and rooftops and sorting out its grid infrastructure woes.

NEA is expected to submit its revised plan to the state council next month. We will keep you posted.

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About the Author

is an Associate Fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, New Delhi) - an independent, not-for-profit research institute focused on energy, environment, and sustainable development. Anand follows the Indian solar market at @indiasolarpost. He also writes at SolarMarket.IN. Views and opinion if any, are his own.

  • Alastair Leith

    “NEA is expected to submit its revised plan to the state council next month. We will keep you posted.”

    Anybody got a link?

  • jburt56

    As terawatt after terawatt of solar is installed we’ll no doubt still have critics ranting about how solar will NEVER work. Eventually they’ll be writhing in a straight jacket at the local sanitarium mourning the closure of the local coal plant, how they’ve been stabbed in the back, etc. Good stuff for Youtube LOL videos.

    • Keanwood

      No, no. Once solar completely takes over they will somehow find a way to attribute Solar’s success to themselves. No flailing about in a straight jacket. More like sipping whisky by the fireplace saying to themselves ” Thank god I helped save the planet. The liberals and greens would have killed all of us. Good thing the sensible conservatives and the free market beat climate change”

      • Frank

        Conservatives should support renewables because its good for business. Liberals have many reasons to choose from.

        • Keanwood

          Yeah. I’m very confident that by 2020 the business case for renewables will be so good that everybody who matters will support them.

          The planet matters but money talks.

    • Philip W

      I’ll keep some popcorn ready for sure.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    It would be interesting to see past FYPs and the incremental ongoing changes. Maybe Zach could put them as references on the site. Then when somebody starts talking how China is doing this or that with nuclear or coal or natural gas we could point to the FYP and say something. Something being like yes that was the plan in the 11th FYP but by the time the 12th FYP it was already changing. By the end of the 12th FYP reality was such and such. Now in the 13th FYP the goal is for wind, PV, and storage to account for all the growth leaving RE with x% of all energy used.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      From the 12th FYP:

      3 Nuclear power
      Accelerate the development of nuclear power in coastal provinces, promote nuclear power construction in central provinces steadily, and construct nuclear power projects with a total installed capacity of 40 million kW.

      4 Renewable energy sources
      Construct large-sized hydropower stations in key watersheds, such as those of the Jinsha, Yalong and Dadu Rivers, and commence the construction of hydropower projects with a total installed capacity of 120 million kW. Construct 6 onshore and 2 coastal and offshore large wind power bases, with an additional installed capacity of over 70 million kW. Construct solar energy power stations with a total installed capacity of over 5 million kW with focus on Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Yunnan.

  • Shiggity

    200GW ~ 1 billion solar panels.

    An incredibly important ratio for solar PV is when the gross number of panels on the planet passes the number of human beings.

    Humanity will pass that number in the 2020s.

    Germany’s state of Bavaria, for example, is already passed this threshold. Hawaii is also close to this threshold. Southern California is closing in on it as well.

    • globi

      It also shows that 1 panel per person or 1400 GW of PV (7 G * 200 W) doesn’t need any grid adaptations as long as these panels are installed on existing buildings. (Since a single appliance can consume much more peak power than a single PV panel or even 10 PV panels will deliver. Besides modern inverters never feed more power than the grid can accept in any case.)

  • Peter Waegemans

    1000 gw by 2030. That’s a lot of nuclear plants never to be built.

    • heinbloed

      True. One can even close the atom power plants down with a good RE program.

      For example Germany’s PV output now in July looks to overtake the atom – for the first time ever:

      (click on “all sources” in the left column and on “grouped” in the header)

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Yes, but look at the annual report and you see it is about half that of nuclear. In fact PV is diminutive compared to wind, hard coal, brown coal, and uranium. I think it should be a punishable crime the Germans phased out the PV subsidies.

        • heinbloed

          Times are changing fast, Ivor O’Connor:

          There is hardly a moment now when REs are not supplying less than 25% power, something that the atom will never achieve anymore.

          There is no end in sight for the losses of coal:

          About 2.5 GW of off-shore power will be grid connected this year and even more next year.

          Sure, the damage which had been done by the fossils and radiation freaks can’t be made good anymore. But they are losing out very quick.

          • heinbloed


            The builder of the € 1.- coal power plant in Germany Craig Morris reports – ALSTOM – has left now the power plant business (all-)together with another fossil shepherd : BILFINGER-BERGER.
            Check that with the search engine.

            Both say “never again”.
            Some are hard to teach but punishment seems to work with capitalists 🙂

            The chieftain/CEO of Bilfinger Berger, former Hessian minister Koch (mentally related to some US-tribe) started his job there with the words : “If we want to stop PV in Germany we have to hurl stones at it ”

            He sunk the entire power sector of Bilfinger Berger.
            When he went from board there was no ship no more.

            Recently it came to me that the enemies of the Energiewende are some sort of sock puppets payed by the Greens. But I can’t prove that.

  • JamesWimberley

    Germany had 38.23 GW of solar at the end of 2015, and has been adding around 100 MW a month, so it’s still under 39 GW. China had 28.2 GW at the end of 2014 – dixit Wikipedia: the data are less reliable than for Germany of course. It added 5.0 GW in Q1 2015, boosted by some rollover from 2014. Assuming the old 15 GW target for 2015, evenly distributed in the remaining 3 quarters, China would reach 39.8 GW by the end of Q3 2015, ahead of Germany.

    • tibi stibi

      “…had 38.23 GW of solar at the end of 2015,”

      are they ahead of time?

  • Michael G

    The US needs to get on the ball to keep up with China – a “race to the top”.

    • We prefer races to the bottom.

      • Kevin McKinney

        “‘We, Kimo Sabe?'”


        • Ivor O’Connor

          The politicians controlling the USA?

  • Mike Dill

    China has some large deserts that can be filled with panels. The south Gobi is barely suitable for widespread grazing. Solar and wind both work there, and do not consume any of the precious water.

    • janet.tovar


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