China Q1 solar installs top 5.5GW as groundwork is laid for expected end of year rush

By Carrie Xiao
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A 102MW floating PV project in a coal mine subsidence area of China’s Anhui Province. Image: Sungrow Floating.

China installed 5.56GW of solar in Q1 2021, new data from the country’s National Renewable Energy Consumption Monitoring and Warning Center has revealed.

Data released last week also revealed that at the end of March China’s total installed solar capacity had reached 259GW, an increase of around 24.2% year-on-year following last year’s significant ramp-up in installations.

The most prolific regions of China for solar installations in the first quarter of 2021 were Shandong (1.28GW), Shaanxi (490MW), Anhui (470MW), Guangdong (430MW) and Jiangsu (400MW).

A heat map of solar installs in China in Q1 2021. Image: National Renewable Energy Consumption Monitoring and Warning Center.

Of the 5.56GW of solar installed in China in Q1, just over 3GW was installed within the distributed generation segment, itself up 76.7% year-on-year and accounting for more than half of total solar solar installed in China in the period. Large-scale solar installation in the China has been hindered at the start of this year by numerous factors, including an increase in module prices.

But as prices are expected to stabilize, ground-mount solar installation in China is widely anticipated to soar towards the end of this year, tapping into the usual rush in the third and fourth quarters. Analyst consensus is for between 60 – 75GW of solar to be installed in China this year.

Adjustments to China’s Annual Renewable Energy Management Measures are also expected to be introduced in Q2, and the grid connection of wind and solar projects are to be accelerated as a result.

According to the Notice on Development and Construction of Wind/PV Power Installations in 2021 (Draft) issued by the National Energy Administration, a multi-guarantee system of guaranteed grid connections and market-oriented grid connections will be built. All provinces in China will have to complete new grid connection projects necessary for the country to meet annual minimum non-hydropower consumption obligation.

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