China installed 920 MW of household solar last month

Solar analyst the Asia-Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory has offered hope the world’s biggest solar marketplace may experience an end-of year resurgence in installations – if only in the form of domestic rooftop arrays.

With China’s National Energy Administration this morning confirming the world’s biggest solar marketplace had added less than 16 GW of new solar generation capacity to the end of last month, it appeared widespread talk of an impressive year-end PV rally in China had been overblown.

Only 4.59 GW of new solar capacity was added between July and September but the AECEA has pointed out that within that modest figure – less than half the roughly 10 GW added in the same period last year – some 920 MW of household solar capacity was installed last month alone.

That domestic solar surge is down to the fact household solar will continue to benefit from the RMB0.18/kWh ($0.025) solar feed-in tariff until the end of October – on Thursday.

An October boom?

With a bumper September having taken Chinese household solar past its annual new capacity target of 3.5 GW to 4.27 GW by the end of last month, the AECEA reckons the figure could end up having risen to 5 GW once the October stats are added in.

Whether that is a sufficient basis for predicting domestic solar will continue to benefit from a feed-in tariff even into the subsidy-free solar world envisaged by Beijing from 2021 onwards, as posited by the AECEA, is a different matter.

Although the rooftop surge will be seen as a positive, however, the AECEA has once again revised down its estimate of the volume of new solar capacity it expects to be deployed in China this year, to a 20-24 GW figure well below what it was predicting at the turn of the year.

In fact, the AECEA estimates give a reliable impression of the unpredictability that has hit China during a year when months of solar policy uncertainty was by delayed announcements of the new guidelines, and all at a time when the price of solar modules continued to plummet.

The consultancy initially predicted China would see 35-40 GW of new solar capacity this year, before reducing the figure to 28-34 GW as the authorities failed to announce a new solar incentive regime. When the new rules did materialize, the AECEA estimate rose to 38-42 GW before again falling away, to 24-32 GW. Now it has fallen again, with only two months left for any late rally to lift the figure.

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