Wednesday, May 9, 2018

In first quarter of 2018 China 9.65 gigawatts of new solar capacity

China's National Energy Administration announced on April 24 that the country had installed 9.65 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity which is up 22 percent on the same period a year ago and beyond analysts' predictions.

AECEA provides the data
The Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory (AECEA) based in Beijing covers the Chinese solar industry more closely than many outside of China are able to do. The 9.65 GW installed in the first quarter consists of 1.97 GW worth of utility-scale solar capacity and 7.68 GW worth of distributed solar capacity.
Frank Haugwitz, director of AECEA noted that the utility-scale segment actually decreased by 64 percent in the first quarter of this year according to last year while the distributed solar segment increased a huge 217 percent. This means that much of the new solar power generation is not going into large centralized grids but is being used locally often in micro-grids.
Distributed solar generation is defined as: "Distributed generation, also distributed energy, on-site generation (OSG) or district/decentralized energy is electrical generation and storage performed by a variety of small, grid-connected devices referred to as distributed energy resources (DER). Conventional power stations, such as coal-fired, gas and nuclear powered plants, as well as hydroelectric dams and large-scale solar power stations, are centralized and often require electric energy to be transmitted over long distances. By contrast, DER systems are decentralized, modular and more flexible technologies, that are located close to the load they serve, albeit having capacities of only 10 megawatts (MW) or less. These systems can comprise multiple generation and storage components; in this instance they are referred to as hybrid power systems."
The Chinese curtailment issue
An article in November of last year noted that China was actually shedding 1 in 10 kilowatts of power it produces. This is particularly true of renewable energy where double-digit rates of curtailment are common for renewable sources. China has the world's largest power system.
The situation is exacerbated by oversupply, and transmission bottlenecks. Power generated in northern provinces is often unable to reach power centers in cities near the coast.
The article notes that according to the NEA, renewable energy abandonment in the third quarter of 2017, was 33 percent in Gansu province, 29.3 percent in Gansu, and 29.3 percent in Xinjiang in the northwest of the country.
AECEA has hinted the situation is improving in 2018, especially in regions such as Xinjiang and the province of Gansu which had very high curtailment levels last year. AECEA expects China to install between 40 and 45 GW of solar capacity for this year.
Last year was a record for solar installation
The National Energy Administration solar statistics for 2017 show that China installed a total of 52.83 GW of solar capacity during the year. This includes floating solar power plants.
In 2016 China had installed 34.2 GW of solar capacity which was then well above the expectations of analysts at the time.
China's cumulative solar capacity is now 130.25 GW or about 7.3 percent of the country's power generation capacity.
In 2017 according to AECEA China added a total of 133 GW of new power generation capacity. This includes 12.8 GW of hydro and 45.8 GW worth of thermal power. For the first time in history China installed more clean energy than thermal power.


Previously published in Digital Journal

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