China Installed 5.33 GW New Solar PV Capacity In Q1/2021

National Energy Administration: China’s Cumulative Installed Solar PV Capacity Exceeds 259 GW, With 5.33 GW Added During Q1/2021

China Installed 5.33 GW New Solar PV Capacity In Q1/2021

After a COVID-19 impacted year of 2020, Chinese solar PV installations in Q1 improved in 2021 with the NEA pegging the additions to a total of 5.33 GW.

  • China’s Q1/2021 clean energy capacity addition was a total of 12.83 GW, comprising wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power
  • To this, solar PV contributed 5.33 GW capacity coming from 2.52 GW large scale and 2.81 GW distributed generation capacity
  • In Q1/2021, solar PV contributed 68.8 billion kWh of power generation capacity to the national total of 475.47 billion kWh

The National Energy Administration (NEA) of China has confirmed the country installed 5.33 GW new solar PV capacity in Q1/2021, reaching almost the same level for 1st quarter as it reported 5.2 GW in Q1/2019. It is also an improvement over 3.95 GW the country installed in COVID-19 impacted Q1/2020 (see China Installed 3.95 GW New Solar In Q1/2020).

Of this 5.33 GW, 2.52 GW came from large scale solar projects and 2.81 GW from distributed generation PV capacity, all of which together took the country’s aggregate installed solar power capacity at the end of Q1/2021 to 259 GW.

Maximum new capacity in Q1/2021 was installed in North China, East China and Northwest China, representing 33%, 25% and 16%, respectively.

During the reporting quarter, the NEA further added in its analysis, PV power generation contributed 68.8 billion kWh to the national renewable energy power generation capacity of 475.47 billion kWh. Wind power added 173.7 billion kWh power generation capacity, and added 5.26 GW in the form of 4.03 GW of onshore wind and 1.23 GW of offshore wind power capacity.

Altogether, China added 12.83 GW of new wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power capacity in Q1/2021.

However, in general the Q1 solar number needs to be put into perspective when looking at the current high-price environment for solar modules. For this reason, developers in China are delaying projects. At a recent Roth Capital webinar with PV InfoLink, the consultancy said it believes China demand will be ‘at ~55GW in 2021, with ~33% in H1’21 and ~67% in H2’21.’ Roth concluded, “It might sound strange to hear that, on the one hand, there have been project delays in Q1 and Q2 because of high module prices, and that, on the other hand — even though prices haven’t come back down — there will now be a surge of projects in Q3 and Q4. The key to resolving this paradox, we believe, lies in the difference between a western perspective and a Chinese perspective. The economic-driven delays in Q1 and Q2 are colliding with the targets set by the Communist Party for 2021 installations. As such, Chinese developers can delay up to a point (in this case, Q3), but not beyond that point.”

Recently, the NEA issued a draft for consultation aiming for wind and solar power to account for 11% of national electricity consumption in 2021 (see China Wants To Increase Solar & Wind Generation In 2021).

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