Solar power climbs toward record high
China Daily

China's expected new solar capacity in 2022 is on course to hit a record as the country goes full throttle on its green energy transition with the aim of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, said an industry group.

Technicians check solar power generation facilities in Tianchang, Anhui province. [Photo by Song Weixing/For China Daily]

Total installations are expected to further gain momentum to stand at between 80 gigawatts and 100 GW this year, breaking last year's record of some 55 GW, said Wang Bohua, honorary chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA).

China built 30.88 GW of new solar power capacity from January to June, up 137 percent from a year earlier, while the total installed capacity of solar power increased by 25.8 percent year-on-year to 340 million kilowatts, Wang said.

Prompted by the goal of a carbon peak, investment in the country's renewable energy market has witnessed rapid development during the first half of this year. Investment in solar power generation projects roared by 283.6 percent year-on-year to 63.1 billion yuan ($9.35 billion) in the first six months, said the National Energy Administration.

Photovoltaic module exports were also on a spree, with the volume reaching 78.6 GW in the first six months, up 74 percent year-on-year, while the total export of PV products also hit a new high of around $25.9 billion, up 113 percent year-on-year, the CPIA said.

An analyst said the rocketing growth, both investment and newly added installed capacity, was a result of supportive domestic policies for new energy development in the country as it's in full swing to transition to a low-carbon society.

The European market, for example, sees more than 90 percent of its solar component supply coming from China, leading to consistent surging exports of Chinese solar components, despite the climbing raw material costs, said Jiang Yali, a solar analyst at BloombergNEF.

While surging energy prices are also driving large-scale utility installation, Europe needs to rely on China in the short-to midterm due to its relatively small scale of manufacturing capacity, Jiang said.

China, the world's largest producer of wind and solar energy as well as the largest domestic and outbound investor in renewable energy, is already leading in renewable energy production figures, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China has the political incentive, economic capability, and moral consensus needed to lead the global renewable energy sector, said the center, believing in the future leadership of China in global renewable energy development.

However, Wang also warned that new restrictions on land use could pose a threat to future capacity growth, with China currently planning on new rules to restrict solar developers from building on arable land or coastlines and riverbanks.

Eyeing to more than double its renewables capacity to 1,200 GW by 2030, up from 635 GW at the end of last year, China has been developing large-scale renewable energy bases in desert regions to fully take advantage of the sufficient solar and wind resources in the regions.

The country's total installed capacity for renewable energy generation rose to 1.1 billion kW during the last 10 years, with the generation capacity of hydropower, wind, solar and biomass ranking at the top in the world, the National Energy Administration said.

The combined installed capacity of wind and solar power has reached 670 million kW, almost 90 times that in 2012, cementing its role as a global leader in renewable energy capacity growth, it said.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China's renewable energy generation capacity is expected to account for more than 50 percent of the total and the generation capacity for wind and solar power is to be doubled, it said.