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
Popular
Sit-in at Rep. Hoyer's office. Sunrise Movement

1,000+ Youth Activists Storm Capitol to Demand Green New Deal

More than 1,000 climate activists with the youth-led Sunrise Movement stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington and participated in sit-ins at Democratic leaders' offices on Monday.

The protesters demanded Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim McGovern support Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal of a "select committee" for a Green New Deal before the winter recess.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Stikine River runs through Wrangell, Alaska. Mining operations nearby threaten to poison fish in the Stikine watershed and destroy the traditions and livelihoods of Southeast Alaskan Tribes. Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Canada as Ugly Neighbor: Mines in BC Would Devastate Alaskan Tribes

By Ramin Pejan

Mining operations in Canada are threatening to destroy the way of life of Southeast Alaskan Tribes who were never consulted about the mines by the governments of Canada or British Columbia.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Deforestation on peatland for palm oil plantation in Borneo, Indonesia. glennhurowitz / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

World's Largest Palm Oil Trader Ramps Up Zero-Deforestation Efforts

The world's largest palm oil trader released plans on Monday to increase its efforts to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain.

Wilmar International, which supplies 40 percent of the world's palm oil, has teamed up with the sustainability consultancy Aidenvironment Asia to develop a comprehensive mapping database to better monitor the company's palm oil supplier group.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Elkhorn Slough Reserve is one of California's few remaining coastal wetlands. Edmund Lowe Photography / Moment / Getty Images

New EPA Rule Would Sabotage Clean Water Act

By Jake Johnson

In a move environmentalists are warning will seriously endanger drinking water and wildlife nationwide, President Donald Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reportedly gearing up to hand yet another gift to big polluters by drastically curtailing the number of waterways and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
James Braund / Getty Images

40 Acres of Farm Land in America Is Lost to Development Every Hour

By Brian Barth

Picture bulldozers plowing up pastures and cornfields to put in subdivisions and strip malls. Add to this picture the fact that the average age of the American farmer is nearly 60—it's often retiring farmers that sell to real estate developers. They can afford to pay much more for property than aspiring young farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy

60,000 Liters of Oil Spills From Pipeline Into Brazilian Bay

About 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons) of oil spilled from a pipeline into the Estrela River and spread to Rio de Janeiro's famed Guanabara Bay over the weekend, according to Reuters and local reports.

The pipeline is owned by Transpetro, the largest oil and gas transportation company in Brazil, and a subsidiary of Petroleo Brasileiro (commonly known as Petrobras). Transpetro claims the leak resulted from an attempted robbery.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
alvarez / E+ / Getty Images

Holiday Shoppers, the Planet Needs You to Take It Easy With Next-Day Shipping

By Jeff Turrentine

Back in 1966, the editors of Time indulged in a long-honored magazine tradition and published an essay in which experts made predictions about the future—in this case, the year 2000. By then, these experts prognosticated, a typical shopper "should be able to switch on to the local supermarket on the video phone, examine grapefruit and price them, all without stirring from her living room." But even so, they predicted, "remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop." Why? Because shoppers "like to get out of the house, like to handle the merchandise, like to be able to change their minds."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Russia pavilion at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland. Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto via Getty Images

COP24: U.S. Joins Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait in Blocking Crucial Climate Report

The U.S. has thrown its hat in the ring with three other fossil-fuel friendly nations to block the COP24 talks from "welcoming" the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that warned that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, BBC News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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