Official figures from China’s National Energy Administration have shown that the country only installed 7.7 GW of new solar in the first half of 2015.
The National Energy Administration (NEA) also admitted that congestion on the grid caused by a higher share of solar energy forced 9% of total installed solar PV to sit idle for the first 6 months of 2015.
The official figures show that China installed 7.73 GW of solar in the first half of this year, made up of 6.69 GW of utility-scale solar and the remaining 1.04 GW from distributed solar, but none of this is very surprising, according to experts.
PV-Tech relayed the thoughts of Beijing-based solar industry consultant, Frank Haugwitz, who was unsurprised by China’s solar figures. “The fairly large share of utility-scale is no surprise, given the myriad of prevailing constraints attached to classical distributed projects,” he said. “If you look at the provincial breakdown, it’s no surprise that a few provinces so far underperformed, in other cases it’s rather the opposite, they out-perform.”
Likewise, Greentech Media launched a stinging attack on China’s solar industry, claiming that there is yet “another reason we can’t fully trust China’s solar installation numbers.”
US-based solar proponents have often been critical of China’s solar industry, unhappy to lose out in installation figures. However, as Greentech Media points out, there are some legitimate reasons why all may not be as it seems, if one only looks at the officially-provided figures. They quote a Bloomberg report from January that showed 23% of panels sampled around China failed to meet the country’s own technical standards, and added that “project owners have faced interconnection delays, which served to cut installations by 3 gigawatts in 2014 compared to 2013 levels.”
Such stories shine a new light on past stories, therefore. In April, China revealed that it had installed 5.04 GW of new solar in the first quarter of the year. If this is the case, then only 2.69 GW was installed in the second quarter, with no real way to measure what of that was left idle or actually connected and used.