China continues to rapidly increase their solar power production in 2017, reaching even further than expectations. They already have the largest capacity in the world compared to all other countries, and they’ll be adding 54 gigawatts to that total this year alone. The country has struggled with fully optimizing its capacity, but they clearly sit as the worldwide leaders in the solar industry.
Back in July, China was expecting to add 30 gigawatts of solar power to their infrastructure in 2017. They were able to eclipse that mark eight months into the year with an added capacity of 34.5 gigawatts. To put that in perspective, the United States is expecting to reach 52.4 gigawatts by the end of this month, and China is on pace to beat that mark in just one year. In total, the country will have over 120 gigawatts of solar power potential.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Yvonne Liu explains that the estimations were off due to projects being built without incentives: “The amount of rooftop solar plants and projects aimed at easing poverty were more than expected and developers rushed to build some ground-mounted solar projects before they have been allocated subsidies.”
China has already blown past their goal for 2020 in the solar industry. They were looking to add 105 gigawatts worth of solar panels in over three years, but they beat that mark in July with just over 112 total gigawatts. It’s a very real possibility that the country could have a monopoly in the solar industry as they could reach over 200 gigawatts in the next couple years.
Not everything has been running smoothly with the massive amount of solar panels being installed in China. The rapid construction of renewable energy has created an abundance of sources and more capacity that’s needed. Curtailment rates, meaning the amount of renewable power systems not currently in use, are still in double figures.
That number has gone down over recent periods and currently sits at 12.2 percent over the year’s third quarter. Solar accounted for 10 percent alone at the end of 2016. China’s National Energy Administration is aiming to end curtailment by 2020 and are looking to have these sources generate 15 percent of overall power by that same target year.
China has been the world’s leader in the solar industry since 2013 in terms of production, and they’re now in front with installed capacity over the last couple years. By 2040, the International Energy Agency expects to see renewable sources hit 40 percent of the country’s energy generation. Coal roughly accounts for two-thirds of generation currently, but that could see a nose dive to 40 percent at the same time.