China has already surpassed its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) target of 105 GW solar installations

Not only is 2017 a big year for solar installations, but China has already surpassed its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) target of 105 GW solar installations

By Joshua Hill, 22 Aug 2017, Clean Technica

New figures published by independent solar industry advisory firm Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA) this week show that China installed a whopping 10.52 GW (gigawatts) worth of new solar in July. That’s not bad, but even better when you consider that China installed a mammoth 24.4 GW worth of new solar capacity in the first half of 2017 — including 13.5 GW worth of new capacity in June.

That means in the space of two months (June and July) China installed 24.02 GW — that’s more solar capacity than some countries (read: Australia).

It should come as little surprise, then, that China has already exceeded its solar capacity installation targets wrapped up in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) of 105 GW. At the end of the first half of 2017, China’s cumulative solar capacity had reached 101.82 GW, putting it now at 112.34 GW.

Further, China is expecting significant solar capacity additions through the second half of 2017 — not least of all because it managed 10.52 GW in July. Specifically, China expects the second half to be fueled by 5.5 GW worth of “Top Runner” project deadlines ending in September, and a state government program of 8 GW of ‘Poverty Alleviation’ schemes throughout the year.

Unsurprisingly, therefore — and with July’s mammoth capacity additions — China has increased its 2017 solar forecast, and now thinks it might be able to install between 40 GW and 45 GW by the end of the year.

Putting solar in comparison with new generation additions, AECEA explained that 1.09 GW worth of new nuclear energy was added in the first seven months of 2017, new hydro capacity was 6.69 GW, and new wind capacity reached 7.3 GW. China did add a total of 18.84 GW worth of new thermal power, but solar still well and truly put that into second place.

Australia’s 2016 cumulative solar PV installations nearly reached 6 gigawatts and surpassed the milestone in the first quarter of 2017, keeping the country on track to install between 10 and 12 gigawatts by 2020, according to a new report published by the Australian PV Institute.

Late last month, the Australian PV Institute (APVI) published a new report for the International Energy Agency (IEA), outlining Australia’s strong solar PV growth in 2016, and its predictions through to 2020. The annual report to the IEA highlighted that Australia capacity reached 5.8 GW (gigawatts) in 2016, and is currently on track to increase cumulative capacity to 10 to 12 GW by 2020.

Further, the APVI report shows that Australia’s solar energy industry currently meets 3.3% of the country’s electricity’s demand, and accounts for 11% of national electricity generation capacity, while 100% of new electricity generating capacity installed in Australia in 2016 was from renewables.

Total Installed Capacity (MW/megawatts)

2016 saw a slight contraction in annual installs, following an activity spike for the utility-scale solar sector in 2015. Rooftop solar installations remained the leading market segment in 2016, with over 540 MW worth of solar installed on over 120,000 households. Further, “significant growth” was reported in the commercial solar segment in the 30-100kW size range, and a growing volume in the industrial segment systems in the 101-5,000 kW range.

Annual PV Installations by Sector (MW)

2016 was not a great year for utility-scale solar installations in Australia, but the current pipeline looks likely to see 2017 utility-scale deployment increase significantly, and as much as 2.3 GW of utility-scale installations between 2017 and 2020.

Australia’s solar industry is now valued at $2.1 billion ($1.6 billion USD), and created 7,210 direct jobs — not bad, in a country that now has over 1.6 million PV installations.