‘China on course to miss distributed PV target’

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China looks on course to have missed its 2014 target for distributed solar but could end up close to the year’s overall 13GW goal through an expanded share of utility-scale projects, according to an expert on the country’s renewables industry.

Writing in a guest blog post today for PV Tech, Frank Haugwitz, head of Beijing-based solar energy consultancy, Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory, said a number of factors had conspired to leave China likely well short of the 8GW of distributed PV it was planning in 2014.

Among these, one problem was that Chinese industrial buildings only have a relatively short life expectancy – less than the 20-year business model based on the available feed-in tariffs for distributed solar projects in China.

Another factor cited by Haugwitz is the much lower-than-expected level of self-consumption of power from distributed PV plants. China’s National Energy Administration had envisaged that up to 80% of power from such plants would be consumed on site, with the remainder sold under the FiT, however the reality is that self-consumption has fallen far below this level, impacting on project viability, Haugwitz said.

Although NEA figures showed that by the end of Q3 only 1.34GW of distributed solar had been built, Haugwitz said up to 4GW of distributed PV looked feasible by the end of the year, depending on Q4 installs.

One development influencing this may be the fact that, according to Haugwitz, since the end of September a new definition of ‘distributed’ projects has been in force that includes projects up to 20MW in size feeding into the medium-voltage grid, as long as they are in specific locations, such as fishponds and tidal zones.http://www.pv-tech.org/guest_blog/list

But despite distributed solar being on course to reach only around half its target in 2014, Haugwitz said a total of 10.5-12GW was still possible for the year. This is because, based on comments from Chinese officials cited by Haugwitz, China looks likely to have installed more grid-connected PV than initially expected in 2014 – up to 8GW rather than the 6GW envisaged at the start of the year.

Frank Haugwitz is one of a panel of new guest authors who will be writing on PV Tech every week on the key technological and market developments in the international solar industry. Try bookmarking our Guest Blog section to make sure you don't miss out on any of their expert insights. 

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