PV projects on agricultural land are playing a key role in China’s rapidly growing distributed PV power generation segment as identified by NPD Solarbuzz which is currently tracking more than 300MW of agricultural PV projects in the country in its China Deal Tracker report.
The China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP) has set a target to develop more than 100MW of PV projects within China’s agricultural sector. As a result, the market research company highlights that an increasing number of PV project developer are now eyeing up these new opportunities, with a particular focus in the Chinese provinces of Xinjiang, Hunan, and Hubei.
According to Steven Han, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, “The agricultural PV market segment in China was previously overlooked by downstream PV suppliers and installers. However, with the threat of anti-dumping actions from the United States and Europe potentially restricting their available sales channels, creating additional demand locally is now essential for both module and balance-of-systems suppliers.”
“Greenhouses have become a popular choice for agricultural PV installations, because they offer benefits in addition to a supply of electricity,” added Han. “PV panels located on greenhouses can shield the sunlight, replace building materials, and add to the overall aesthetics.”
There is a short supply of farmland in central and eastern China which has created some difficulties for project developer installing ground-mounted PV systems. Consequently, many companies have turned to rooftop PV installations whilst the more attractive developments combine rooftop PV systems with agricultural applications. This latter solution is a mutually beneficial arrangement which enables PV developers to benefit from the PV power generation whilst providing famers with a revenue stream.
NPD Solarbuzz noted that commercial agricultural PV projects are favoured by the top PV developers in China, and that this segment is estimated to grow quickly in the coming years. With this in mind, developers have been seeking additional land space in central and eastern China to further boost domestic PV demand.