Dragon Solar Might

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China has emerged as the world’s largest market for solar panels and in 2016 is expected to be home to a quarter of the planet’s new energy capacity from solar panels, according to a new report from Wizards Island. China is rapidly adding as much power generation as possible, and solar is probably the one source of new energy generation in the country that will be highly ubiquitous.

According to figures released by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), the first quarter of 2016 saw the country’s solar industry add 7.14 GW in capacity, bringing its cumulative solar capacity up to 50.3 GW, up 52%. In total, China’s solar capacity is made up of 43.29 GW of ground-mounted solar PV power plants, and another 7.03 GW of distributed solar PV.

China’s north, east, central, and southern regions all installed more than 1 GW of new capacity, installing respectively 1.5 GW, 1.31 GW, 1.3 GW, and 1.04 GW.

Overall, the quarter saw 6.17 GW of ground-mounted PV plants installed, and 970 MW of distributed PV.

The companies that have achieved this feat collectively are:

Sungold Solar , JS Solar Luxen Solar , TN Solar , ERA Solar , ECO PV , Dokio,

China Land , Just Solar , Suntech Power , Chint Group Corporation , JA Solar Holdings,

Yingli , China Sunergy , Hanwha , GCL Poly and tens of others.

Unsurprisingly, grid curtailment of solar power remains a serious issue, with 1.9 billion kWh out of the total 11.8 billion kWh of PV generation was lost. China is seeking to mitigate renewable grid curtailment by prioritizing renewable energy over fossil fuel where possible, and by building out infrastructure across the country. Xinjiang, Gansu, and Ningxia were the three provinces with the highest levels of curtailment — 52%, 39%, and 20% respectively.

China’s installed solar capacity has surged almost 13-fold since 2011. Solar energy accounted for 3 percent of the nation’s electricity mix at the end of 2015.

The nation produced 43 gigawatts of solar panels last year, equal to 70 percent of global output,Cheap government capital and access to supply chains, has led Chinese module manufacturers to significantly drive down costs, according to Tyler Ogden, a solar analyst with Lux Research.

"Having local manufacturing capacity also leads to cheaper installations costs due to shortened supply chains,” Ogden said. "However it’s important to note that despite the reports of China’s top position, systems are subject to curtailment and some operators have reported delays in feed-in tariff payments. Although the numbers are impressive, China still has problems to tackle."

China surpassed Germany as the largest solar power generator worldwide last year, with installed PV capacity totaling 43 GW as of the end of 2015.

The government has set a national target for new commercial solar power capacity of 18.1 GW for this year, which is below initial market expectations and is a sign that the government is trying to slow capacity expansion in the power generation sector.

Credit : ren21.net

For China, the 20 gigawatts of new solar power installed in the first half of 2016 is as much new solar capacity alone as Switzerland’s total electricity generating capacity.

Is China’s solar power infatuation a bubble that inevitably will burst? Or is something more fundamental happening in China’s electricity market, where more than 60 percent of electricity is still produced by coal? Lets wait and watch.

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