While I’m sure it does not match up to the glory of 8 on the luckiness index, the number 13 is considered quite lucky in China. In Mandarin, “13” is pronounced as “shisan,” which can mean “definitely vibrant” or “assured growth.”
And vibrant is exactly how one would describe China’s solar market. But does the sector has “assured growth?” You bet.
PV Magazine recently reported that China, as part of its 13th five-year plan, is considering a solar target of 200 GW by 2020. If you have been following recent reports, that’s the milestone globally installed solar PV capacity is expected to cross in the (very) near future.
In 2009, while drafting its 12th five-year plan, China had envisioned a solar goal of 5 GW. That too by 2015. And we all know how that went!
Following several rounds of revisions, the target for the 12th plan was finally hiked to 35 GW. However, by the end of Q1’15, China’s total cumulative solar power capacity had already reached 33.12 GW.
With the annual target for 2015 set at 17.8 GW, the question to ask is not whether China will meet its current five-year goal, but by how much it will exceed it.
China is expected to cross 45 GW — 20% higher than its national target — and overtake Germany (in terms of installed capacity) in the process by this year’s end.
Coming back to the 13th five-year plan, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), which is the nodal government agency in the matters of energy policy, has chalked out a 100 GW target for solar PV by 2020.
However, it is widely speculated that when the plan is actually announced, this would be raised to an optimistic 200 GW.
A recent study published by Energy Research Institute and the State Grid Energy Research Institute expects that, under a high-penetration scenario, renewables will meet 57% of its power needs in 2030, growing to 86% renewables by 2050, all at the same time as China’s economy grows sevenfold.
The report forecasts that solar power in China will reach a capacity of 157 GW by 2020, and cross 1000 GW by 2030.
Let’s say China reaches 45 GW by the end of 2015. The country would still need to install more than 30 GW of PV capacity each year. Apart from the investment of $30–35 billion per year, this would require vast tracts of suitable land and rooftops and sorting out its grid infrastructure woes.
NEA is expected to submit its revised plan to the state council next month. We will keep you posted.