China Maintains Solar Power Target After Record Installation

Jan 24, 2014 10:48 am ET

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest solar market, kept in place its annual installation target for technology and also for wind power.

China plans to add 10 gigawatts of solar power and 18 gigawatts of wind this year, the National Energy Administration said today in a statement dated Jan. 20.

Developers in China installed a record 12 gigawatts of solar panels in 2013, almost matching the total amount of solar power in operation in the U.S., and may exceed that in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The National Energy Administration has mentioned a 14 gigawatt target, and actually sent out a letter to provincial authorities with a 12 gigawatt target broken out by province,” said Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “I don’t think this is exactly a done deal yet. China is playing fast and loose with solar targets at the moment.”

The power plants were built mostly in China’s sunny, western provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang and Qinghai and make its state-owned power companies the world’s biggest owners of solar assets, the London-based research company said in a statement yesterday.

China’s photovoltaic installations surpassed longtime leader Germany. The pace triple the 3.6 gigawatts put in place in China in 2012, and the nation expects to add 14 gigawatts of solar capacity this year, according to New Energy Finance.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market,” Chase said. “PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

Chinese developers rushed to complete projects before the end of the year, when a 1-yuan (17 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour incentive expired. That may have led to as many as 2 gigawatts of late-year additions that aren’t included in the 12-gigawatt total.

--Feifei Shen, with assistance from Christopher Martin in New York. Editors: Reed Landberg, Tony Barrett