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China’s PV grid connections hit 22GW in H1 2016

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In previous years, the holiday for Chinese New Year has seen sluggish installs on the ground during the first half of the year and a surge of activity in the second half. Source: United PV.

A massive 22GW of grid-connected solar projects have been logged in China’s official register for the first half of 2016.

Last week the National Energy Administration (NEA) revealed at a Chinese Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) event in Beijing that 22GW, including 11.3GW in June alone, were logged in its database.

While the numbers are huge, they do not directly represent the market’s end-demand with a number of factors skewing Beijing’s data.

“It's high even by China’s standards,” Yvonne Liu, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Chinese solar market analyst told PV Tech. “We expected about 18GW of grid connections in H1 2016, including 3GW that was actually built in late 2015 and only connected to the grid in 2016,” she explained. 

“The NEA believes there may still be some duplicate records in their data; they describe it as 'over 20GW'. We also believe that some [of these] projects were built even before 2015 may have finally been connected in H1 2016,” said Liu.

“Another reason is that many projects are actually partially commissioned. For example, in order to connect to the grid, defined by starting power generation, by 30 June, a 10MW project might have commissioned only 7MW and leave the remaining 3MW to July or even August. But currently it is still counted as 10MW in official statistics. The NEA estimates that about 1-2GW will be removed from the 22GW in the final number,” added Liu.

What now for H2

In previous years, the holiday for Chinese New Year has seen sluggish installs on the ground during the first half of the year and a surge of activity in the second half.

“The Chinese solar market has been actively building projects in H1 2016, and we all remember past booms, for example in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, that were an insane amount larger than anyone realised until they were over. The challenge for companies will be in H2 2016, when we expect a major slowdown,” she said.

Frank Haugwitz, the Beijing-based founder of solar consultancy AECEA, also attended the CPIA event.

“One consequence in light of this massive deployment could be that from 2017 onwards through 2020 the annual quota could be lowered to approx 15GW per year,” he said.

The aspirational cap on support for new projects in China in 2016 is 18.1GW.

Reprinted from PVTech

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