China Grid-connected PV Power Generation Quantity May Reach 30GW, and the Goal of the "13th Five-Year" Plan May be Lowered

Local News

After the strongest upsurge of installation in history, the PV industry of China arrived at the result of more than 20GW of grid-connected power generation quantity in the first half of this year, but that was a signal with mingled hope and fear. The hope was that the annual grid-connected power generation quantity would hopefully reach 30GW depending on the good overall situation of market this year; the fear was that imbalance between supply and demand and industrial restructuring would happen subsequently, and moreover, the goal of 150GW of the "13th Five-Year" Plan would be possibly lowered under the condition that the problem of PV power abandonment and limitation could not be solved.

China Photovoltaic Industry Association and relevant practitioners held the "Seminar on First Half-year Industrial Development Review and Second Half-year Outlook in 2016". It was pointed by Wang Bohua, Secretary General of the Association, that the grid-connected PV power generation quantity of China in the first half of this year was three times as much as that in the first half of 2015, namely, 7.73GW, and had exceeded 20GW. By the end of last year, the accumulated PV installed capacity in China had reached 43GW. Along with the capacity newly installed in this year till now, the accumulated installed capacity is expected to hit 65GW.

Hot Manufacturing, But with Worries

According to the statistics of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, the domestic module output in the first half of 2016 reached 27GW, with an annual growth rate of 37.8%; the average activation of 42 module plants reported was 88.6%, increasing by 9% compared with the same period last year. The output of polycrystalline silicon in the first half of 2016 also increased at an annual rate of 28.4%, reaching 95 thousand tonnes, and the imported quantity was 60 thousand tonnes. Most of the enterprises had produced in a full capacity, but the supply still slightly fell short of the demand.

Wang Bohua said that a grid-connected power generation quantity of 5 -- 10GW was expected to be produced in the second half of this year, and the annual grid-connected power generation quantity would have a chance to challenge the new historical record of 30GW. On the whole, the market condition this year would be tight first and loose afterward. He also warned that the phenomenon of enterprise differentiation had arisen under the hot market condition. Downstream enterprises more trusted large companies having their own brands, and the long-term quality assurance ability of small companies was widely doubted. He appealed to both upstream and downstream in the industry chain to pay attention to the market condition during development; otherwise they would be caught in a new round of imbalance between supply and demand. Wang Bohua pointed out that there had been a decreasing trend in module plant quantity at the moment, and a round of mergers and restructuring would certainly happen in the future.

For that reason, Wang Weiwei, Chief of Electronics Fundamentals Section, Electronic Information Department, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, expressed that they would begin to discuss and formulate specific enterprise evaluation criteria.

PV and Wind Power Abandonment Problem Hard to Solve; the Goal of the "13th Five-Year" Plan Probably be Lowered

There are three major problems in the development of China's PV industry, namely, power limitation, land, and subsidy, among which the problem of power limitation is severe. Wang Bohua admitted that "there is no solution in a short term".

According to the statistical data of the National Energy Administration of China, the PV power abandonment rates in Gansu and Xinjiang were 31% and 26% respectively at the end of 2015 and worsened to 39% and 52% respectively in the first quarter of 2016, and the national abandoned PV power reached 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours.

The problem of PV and wind power abandonment cannot be solved unless the two measures, i.e., (1) 100% acquisition of renewable energy and (2) grid construction, are simultaneously implemented. However, under the high financial pressure at present, even the problem of PV subsidy arrears cannot be solved, and grid construction also needs time; therefore it will take time to implement these two measures.

This will directly influence the goal of installed capacity set by the "13th Five-Year" Plan of China. Since the outset of this year, China has successively launched relevant measures, including suspending the new case application and construction in regions of a high PV power abandonment rate. The existing quantity of special cases is expected to be successively absorbed before 2018, a necessary assessment mechanism for power usage rate will be established, and construction expansion will be resumed when the problems are solved.

Under this policy, we can say that the lowering of the installed capacity goal of 150GW of the "13th Five-Year" Plan has been an inevitable outcome.

Poverty Alleviation, Distributed PV System, and Top Runner Program Becoming the Focuses In contrast to the predicament of PV power abandonment and limitation confronting large power stations, such PV systems in special forms as special poverty alleviation cases, distributed PV system, and Top Runner Program have become the focuses in the market.

The National Energy Administration of China put forward the installed capacity indicator of 18.1GW for the year of 2016 in June, excluding special poverty alleviation cases, which were made a large potential market. On the other side, distributed PV systems combined with roof and industries like agriculture and fishery were still attached great importance to, and the installed capacity in the first quarter of this year had been nearly 1GW, mainly concentrated in the mid-eastern and southern regions.

In addition, the Top Runner Program that has been formally allocated with 5.5GW in 2016 is highly anticipated in the industry. The Program requires adopting polycrystalline module above 16.5% or mono-crystalline efficient module above 17%, thus being able to promote the transformation and upgrading of PV industry.

The 1GW special case of demonstration base in the Phase-I Top Runner Program had been completely connected to the grid in Datong, Shanxi prior to June 30 this year; Wang Bohua thought that experience would make the future development more smooth. The demonstration base of this year has been settled in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, and the installed capacity is 1GW, as well.

Besides the national Top Runner Programs, provincial governments, including Ningxia, Xinjiang, and Jiangsu, have also launched their own Top Runner Programs one after another, sufficiently reflecting the high degree of attention received by the "Top Runner".