Distributed PV led the way to China installing 53GW of PV in 2021

An operational floating PV plant in China. Image: Sungrow Floating.

Distributed PV installations in China topped 29GW last year, contributing more than half of total solar installations in the country for the first time.

In a note published yesterday, the country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) said around 53GW of grid-connected solar capacity was installed last year, an increase on the 48.2GW installed in 2020.

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Installations fell short of the industry analyst consensus of 60 – 75GW issued at the start of last year – crucially reached before prolonged periods of supply chain volatility impacted pricing – but towards the top end of the revised 45 – 55GW forecast issued by the China Photovoltaic Industry Association in December.

While utility-scale solar installations somewhat faltered in 2021 – soaring material and component costs forced many projects to be pushed back into 2022 – residential solar deployment soared, continuing a trend identified mid-way through the year.

Distributed PV installations reached 29GW in China last year, with around 21.5GW of that figure coming from residential installations. The domestic solar segment’s share of total PV installations in China topped 40%, with the entire distributed PV sector’s share reaching around 55%, the first time it has recorded more than half of total installations in China.

Total cumulative distributed PV reached 107.5GW as of the end of 2021, accounting for around one-third of total grid-connected solar capacity in China.

Additional reporting by Carrie Xiao.

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