China’s National Energy Administration announced on Tuesday that the country installed an impressive 9.65 gigawatts (GW) of new solar PV capacity in the first quarter of 2018, up 22% on the same period a year earlier and up on analysts’ projections.
At a press conference held on Tuesday, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) published new data revealing the country’s solar PV performance for the first quarter. The data comes to us courtesy of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory, (AECEA), based in Beijing, which covers the Chinese solar industry closer than many non-Chinese analysts are capable of doing.
Specifically, China installed a total of 9.65 GW worth of new solar PV capacity in the first quarter, made up of 1.97 GW worth of utility-scale solar capacity, and 7.68 GW worth of distributed solar capacity. This represents a 22% increase on the same quarter a year earlier, however, this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Frank Haugwitz, Director of the AECEA, explained that China’s utility-scale segment actually decreased by 64% in the first quarter, as compared to a year earlier, while the country’s distributed solar segment increased by a mind-boggling 217%.
AECEA also hinted at the fact that grid curtailment issues, which have plagued China’s solar industry for several years now, is beginning to improve — especially in regions such as Xinjiang and the province of Gansu, where grid curtailment levels in 2017 had stayed above 20% for the whole year.
It’s a strong start to the year for China’s solar industry, which broke all sorts of records in 2017 by installing a massive 52.83 GW worth of solar capacity after a year of repeated revisions to analyst expectations. Looking forward, there is no communal agreement on how much solar China will install in 2018, but AECEA currently expects China to install between 40 GW and 45 GW.