High expectations for solar PV development in China – but can they be met?


The solar PV development in China and in the world are one of the main themes in the brand new issue of China Renewable Energy Magazine from CNREC 

Experts from Energy Research Institute of NDRC, China Photovoltaic Society and State Grid Energy Research Institute give in the new issue of the CNREC RE Magazine a quite comprehensive and in-depth view of the recent and future development of the solar PV industry and market (the figures below are from the magazine).

The 12th 5-year plan set out clear and ambitious targets for the development of solar PV in China. 20 GW installed capacity is the target for 2015 and 50 GW is the target for 2050. In 2011 3.5 GW is installed. The plan focuses both on large PV power plants and on distributed PV systems, including roof-top and building integrated installations. But is it possible to have such a rapid development in China the next 5-10 years?


From an incentive point of view, Wang Sicheng from NDRCs Energy Research Institute (ERI) points out that the RE law from 2005 and 2009 is a sufficient overarching framework for the development of solar PV in China. The law has been follow by detailed implementation of support schemes for demonstration project and a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) for large PV power plants. Nevertheless there are still a number of barriers for the large PV installations:

  • Difficulties in connection to the transmission grid
  • High Land use tax
  • Unclear lenght of the FIT subsidy
  • Severe delays in the payment of the subsidy
  • Bad timing between planning of the PV power plants and the grid planning

The development of distributed PV installations has until now happened as part of the demonstration programs, e.g. the Golden Sun projects. And here the development has run into  a series of barriers:

  • Difficulties in connecting to the distribution net
  • Difficulties in setting up contracts with the grid companies
  • Unclear or missing standards for grid connection etc.
Wang Sicheng point to clear and comprehensive planning procedures for the large PV plants, technical and pricing standards as main components for implementing the targets for solar PV in China. Also allowing developers to construct distributed system on buildings owned by others would help the implementation. And first of all – clear rules for the subsidies for all in form of reasonable FIT instead of investment grants.

Zhao Yuwen from China Photovoltaic Society (CRES) look at the solar PV development from an industry point of view. In general he agrees with the ideas of promoting FIT for solar PV and to have better timing between grid and solar PV development. On top of this he points to some industry specific challenges. It is a big challenge for the Chinese solar PV industry that the Chinese market only is around 10 percent of the Chinese production. A more solid home market is needed to avoid severe damage from protectionism in international trade. Furthermore the Chinese solar PV industry have problems to become competitive with foreign manufactures when it comes to some of the components in solar PV panels, e.g. polycrystalline silicon and some high-end raw and auxiliary materials.

Finally Cao Shiya from the State Grid Energy Research Institute looks at the technical and economic development of different solar PV systems. One of the main points is that the rapid development of installations allows for further improvement of the levelized cost of electricity from solar PV. He expects the cost to be half of the current cost in 2020.

There is a wealth of information about the past, present and future development of solar PV systems in all three articles, not only for China but also for the global development. If you are interested in solar PV in China, CNRECs 3th RE Magazine is a must-read. On top of this you get a lot of other interesting article about policy, industry and data about renewable energy. Download the Magazine from CNREC web site in Chinese or English.


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