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 ()
Sponsored
Popular

5 Recent Victories for the Oceans

By Andy Sharpless

In the last several weeks, Oceana and its allies won five important victories that will help protect biodiversity and increase abundance in our seas:

Keep reading... Show less
Snow in Atlanta on Jan. 17, 2018. Lisa Panero / Flickr

Climate Change and Weather Extremes: Both Heat and Cold Can Kill

By Garth Heutel, David Molitor and Nolan Miller

Climate change is increasing the frequency and strength of some types of extreme weather in the U.S., particularly heat waves. Last summer the U.S. Southwest experienced life-threatening heat waves, which are especially dangerous for elderly people and other vulnerable populations.

More recently, record-setting cold temperatures engulfed much of the country during the first week of 2018. This arctic blast has been blamed for dozens of deaths. Some scientists believe that Arctic warming may be a factor in this type of persistent cold spell, although others question this connection.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo

One Year Into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

By John R. Platt

What a long, strange year it's been.

Saturday, Jan. 20 marks the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration officially taking office after a long and arduous election. It's a year that has seen seemingly unending attacks on science and the environment, along with a rise in hateful rhetoric and racially motivated policies. But it's almost been met by the continuing growth of the efforts to resist what the Trump administration has to offer.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Chris J. Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Slams Coca-Cola Plastic Announcement as ‘Dodging the Main Issue’

By Louise Edge

Friday Greenpeace criticized Coca-Cola's new global plastics plan for failing to address the urgency of ocean plastic pollution.

The long awaited policy from the world's largest soft drink company featured a series of measures weaker than those previously announced for Europe and the UK.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
The two young Iowa vandals knocked over 50 hives and exposed the bees to deadly winter temperatures. Colby Stopa / Flickr

Two Boys Charged With Killing Half a Million Honeybees in Iowa

Two boys were charged with killing more than a half million bees at a honey business in Iowa last month.

"All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures," Sioux City police said in a release.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy

Are Microwaves Really as Bad for the Environment as Cars?

According to many headlines blared around the Internet this week, "microwaves are as damaging to the environment as cars." But this misleading information, based on a new study from the University of Manchester, hopefully doesn't make you feel guilty about zapping your next Hot Pocket.

The research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that microwave ovens across the European Union generate as much carbon dioxide as nearly 7 million cars and consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour of electricity per year. Okay, that sounds like a lot. But also consider that there are about 130 million microwaves in Europe and some 291 million vehicles on its roads.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO

Monsanto's Roundup Destroys Healthy Microbes in Humans and in Soils

By Julie Wilson

We're only beginning to learn the importance of healthy gut bacteria to our overall health—and the relationship between healthy soil and the human microbiome.

We know that the human microbiome, often referred to as our "second brain," plays a key role in our health, from helping us digest the food we eat, to boosting our brain function and regulating our immune systems.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke refused to meet with National Park System Advisory Board members last year, prompting most of them to quit. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

From National Parks to the EPA, Trump Administration Stiff-Arms Science Advisers

By Elliott Negin

The Trump administration's testy relationship with science reminds me of that old saying: Advice is least heeded when most needed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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