• China’s NEA has announced 9.65 GW of new PV capacity addition in Q1/2018
  • The world’s largest solar market registered 22% YoY growth in Q1/2018
  • Cumulative PV capacity at the end of March 2018 was more than 139 GW
  • Utility scale PV installations saw a drop of 64%, while distributed PV pushed up the number with 217% YoY growth

The Chinese solar market continues full steam. The world’s largest solar market registered 22% YoY growth in Q1/2018, after installing 9.65 GW of new PV capacity, according to China’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

Utility scale PV power plants comprised 1.97 GW, signalling a decrease of 64% over last year, while distributed PV registered 217% YoY growth with 7.685 GW new installations in Q1. Distributed PV capacity was installed in particular in Shandong, Henan, Jiangsu and Zhejiang Province.

The first quarter of 2018 was the best first solar quarter ever in China. In Q1/2015, it added 5 GW. In Q1/2016, China installed 7.1 GW (see China Q1/2016 PV Capacity). The earlier number for Q1/2017 was 7.2 GW, but now that NEA says that the market grew by 22% to 9.65 GW it implies that apparently 7.9 GW was added in Q1/2017. However, all this takes China’s cumulative PV capacity to more than 139 GW by March 31, 2018.

After all solar analysts terribly underestimated China’s2017solar market growth in their forecasts – which grew to 52.8 GW from 34.5 GW in 2016, the two biggest groups are now cautiously optimistic: BNEF has only provided in its Q1 forecast a range between 51.5 and 60.5 GW, while IHS foresees 53 GW in its Q1 market update. GTM Research is the most pessimistic of the bigger solar analysts, recently forecasting only 48 GW new PV for 2018 in China (see GTM Pegs 2018 PV Demand At 104 GW). However, China based consultancy ACEA even expects the market to contract even further – down to between 40 and 45 GW this year due to incentive scheme changes.