Quantcast
Energy
A 1500 volt solar power plant in China. Sungrow

China Has Already More Than Doubled Its 2020 Solar Power Target

By Jing Yan and Lauri Myllyvirta

China has more than doubled its end-of-decade solar power target, with new installations dramatically outstripping expectation, according to the government's energy agency.

By the end of July this year, China's solar PV capacity topped 112GW, after installing a stunning 35GW in just seven months—more than twice as much as installed by any other country in all of 2016.


As a result, total solar PV capacity now exceeds the government's 2020 goal of 105GW, set as recently as last year.

This could have created a very confusing situation for the industry—after years of record-setting installations, there was no target to hit—but the National Energy Administration (NEA) responded by setting new, ambitious annual installation targets.

These targets would take capacity to 213GW in 2020—which is five times larger than current capacity of the U.S.

That would mean covering an area of land equivalent to greater London—1500km2—with solar panels.

Current growth rates suggest China could even surpass that new, higher target.

Wind is also doing well

China is on track to install at least 110.4 GW in onshore wind capacity over the next three years.

This would increase the country's cumulative wind power installation by 2020 to about 264 GW, far exceeding the original target of 210GW set during the 13th Five-Year Plan period.

It's also considerably more than the total wind power capacity of all of Europe (and that's including the UK).

New targets

That's not all the new targets imply.

By 2020, China is aiming to build 54.5GW of large-scale solar projects—PV stations, and agriculture and husbandry combinations.

That alone surpasses the total solar capacity of both the UK and Germany combined.

In addition there will be 8GW of new showcase projects that use higher efficiency solar PV every year.

The new target reflects the huge potential for distributed solar—electricity that is produced at the same spot where it is used. Under the new regulation, there are no limitations on the installation of distributed renewables, meaning innovations like rooftop solar panels are on track to soar.

Over the past year, distributed solar installations have shot up.

According to NEA statistics, 7.11 GW of distributed solar PV was added in the first half of 2017, an approximately threefold increase year-on-year.

The astounding growth of wind and solar power in China means that the country is on track to generate Germany's total electricity consumption from these sources by 2020. Generation from wind and solar would amount to around nine percent of China's own consumption, up from 5.2 percent last year.

Curtailment

But it's not all rosy.

China's wind and solar power sectors are still battling a huge curtailment crisis.

In the first half of 2017, the national wind curtailment rate stood at 13.6 percent, with solar curtailment in five northwest provinces at 15.5 percent.

The NEA's new targets, however, acknowledge the problem and take two key steps to tackle it.

First, provinces with serious wind and solar curtailment problems, such as the western provinces Gansu, Xinjiang and Ningxia, are not permitted to install more capacity.

This should have the effect of nudging these province's governments towards effectively utilising the enormous capacity they have already installed.

And that will mean challenging coal's dominance in the energy mix.

Second, seven provinces, including Beijing and Shanghai, are allowed to install as much solar capacity as they want with the important caveat that the new capacity does not cause curtailment in these areas.

That suggests China could in fact smash its own 2020 solar target. Again.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Food
Workers collect salt crystals on Aug. 22 at Aigues-Mortes where the salt pans cover 10,000 hectares. PASCAL GUYOT / AFP / Getty Images

90% of Table Salt Is Contaminated With Mircroplastics

By Julia Conley

A year after researchers at a New York university discovered microplastics present in sea salt thanks to widespread plastic pollution, researchers in South Korea set out to find out how pervasive the problem is—and found that 90 percent of salt brands commonly used in homes around the world contain the tiny pieces of plastic.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Japan's cherry blossoms are unexpectedly blooming this autumn. Coniferconifer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cherry Blossoms are Blooming Across Japan. It's October.

Each year, Japan's iconic cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring. But after a bout of extreme weather, blooms are being reported several months early.

The Japanese weather site Weathernews said it had received more than 350 reports of blossoms throughout the country. The flowers usually appear in March or April.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Bloede Dam removal in process. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services / YouTube

4 Exciting Dam-Removal Projects to Watch

By Tara Lohan

For much of the 20th century humans got really good at dam building. Dams—embraced for their flood protection, water storage and electricity generation—drove industry, built cities and helped turn deserts into farms. The United States alone has now amassed more than 90,000 dams, half of which are 25 feet tall or greater.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
FoodPrint helps identify local and seasonal produce with its Seasonal Food Guide. FoodPrint / Facebook

Find Out Your 'Foodprint': New Website Helps You Shop, Cook and Eat More Sustainably

Two days after World Food Day, an innovative nonprofit has launched a website to help you reduce the environmental impact of the food you eat.

FoodPrint, designed by GRACE Communications Foundation, was created to educate consumers about everything that goes into common food items, from farm to fridge, so that they can make sustainable choices.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testified Aug. 1 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Acting EPA Head Is Still Unconfirmed After 100+ Days in Position

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), might continue to oversee the office without Senate confirmation until President Trump's term is over, according to reports from Bloomberg and the Huffington Post.

The former coal lobbyist has been the temporary EPA boss for more than 100 days ever since his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned in July after a long list of ethics scandals.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Volunteers prepare to take flow measurements on Muddy Creek. Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps / CC BY-ND

How Monitoring Local Water Supplies Can Build Community

By John M. Carroll

Water insecurity is a touchstone for 2018. Our planet isn't running out of water, but various kinds of mismanagement have led to local water crises across the planet, directly threatening millions of people.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Inti St Clair / Getty Images

When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers

By Richard Heinberg

Driving is dangerous. In fact, it's about the riskiest activity most of us engage in routinely. It requires one's full attention—and even then, things can sometimes go horribly awry. The brakes fail. Weather turns roads to ice. A driver in the oncoming lane falls asleep. Tragedy ensues. But if we're asleep at the wheel, the likelihood of calamity skyrockets. That's why distracted driving is legally discouraged: no cell phones, no reading newspapers or books, no hanky-panky with the front-seat passenger. If you're caught, there's a hefty fine.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Last month's temperatures across land and sea tied with 2017 as the fourth highest for September in the 1880-2018 record. NOAA

2018 Likely to Rank as Fourth-Hottest Year on Record

After a summer of record-breaking heatwaves and devastating wildfires, 2018 is shaping up to be one of the planet's hottest years in recorded history.

From January through September, the average global temperature was 1.39°F above the 20th century average of 57.5°F, making it the fourth warmest year-to-date on record, and only 0.43°F lower than the record-high set in 2016 for the same period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA) announced Wednesday. NOAA's global temperature dataset record dates back to 1880.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!