Commercial PV capacity in China has now passed the 16GW milestone, according to a new report from Solarbuzz. The China Deal Tracker report also claims that the country is on course to match the US in terms of 2011 installations, with 195 systems, accounting for 1.8GW, scheduled to be grid connected by the year’s end.
Falling module and balance of system (BOS) prices have considerably improved internal rates of return (IRR) for projects and led to an upsurge of development across China. Solarbuzz estimates that 1,104 non-residential projects are either completed or close to completion, with the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shaanxi, Tibet and Anhui leading the push; these 10 provinces represent 86% of the total installed pipeline.
The Qinghai 930 programme as well as the recently-launched unified national feed-in tariff (FiT) policy has also proved enticing for project developers. The leading developers are China Power Investment, China Guodian, China Huadian, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, China Energy Conservation & Environmental Protection Group and the Chint Group, which have accounted for nearly 1GW of total installations in 2011.
“China’s FiT rates – CNY1.15 per kWh in 2011 and CHY1 per kWh for 2012 – used to be considered so low that project development activities have been mostly limited to high solar radiation regions such as Golmud,” Solarbuzz analyst Ray Lian said. “However, system prices fell so fast in 2011 that project profitability has been improved to reasonable levels in other locations.
“Projects entitled to the Golden Sun and Solar Rooftop programs will enjoy the highest IRRs in Q4 2011 and H1 2012. With at least CNY8 per Wp rebate to system cost approaching CNY12 per Wp, owners of these projects will not leave money on the table. As a result, the market share of the building-mount segment in China will show a significant increase over the next several quarters.”
At present ground-mounted systems dominate the PV landscape – building-mounted represent just 10% of the national pipeline. However, if system prices continue to fall, this status quo is likely to change as solar generated electricity – and building-mounted systems – quickly become more economically viable for industrial and commercial users.