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Solar power in China

Solar power in China is a growing industry with over 400 photovoltaic (PV) companies. In 2013, China was the world's leading installer of solar photovoltaics, adding a record 11.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to a cumulated total of 18.3 GW.[1] This is more than twice as much as in 2012 when China installed about 5.0 GW of solar panel capacity.[2] Solar water heating is extensively implemented as well.[3]

Domestic installed capacity

Rooftop solar water heaters are ubiquitous in China
New solar hot water installations during 2007, worldwide
Year Capacity (MW) Installed/yr
1999 16
2000 19 3
2001 23.5 4.5
2002 42 8.5
2003 52 10
2004 62 10
2005 70 8
2006 80 10
2007 100 20
2008 140 40
2009 300 160
2010 800 500
2011 3,300 2,500
2012 8,300 5,000
2013 ~17,800 ~9,500
2014 28,199 10,560
Note: Figures for 2013 were retroactively changed. Clarification TBA. Source: IEA[4][2]

According to plans unveiled by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2007, the country's installed solar capacity was to grow to 1,800 MW by 2020.[5] In 2009, Wang Zhongying, a Commission official, mentioned at a solar energy conference in Shanghai that the plan might be exceeded several-fold, with the installed capacity possibly reaching as much as 10 GW by 2020.[5] In May 2011, the National People's Congress (NPC) set 5 GW as an official minimum PV target for 2015, with a longer-term target of 20–30 GW by 2020.[6] In May 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission announced that the solar capacity target had been upped again, now to 70 GW by 2017.[7]

Installations of solar panels in China have been rising steadily, from 2.5 GW in 2011 to 5 GW in 2012 to 11.3 GW in 2013. Cumulative capacity now totals over 18,000 MW as of 2013 year-end which ranks second in the world (behind Germany) and the country expects to install a further 13 GW in 2014.[2][8]:pp. 13,14[9] According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, the total installed capacity could grow to between 47 GW to 66 GW by 2017.[8]:p. 35 Market research firm NPD Group forecasts that China will have over 100 GW of PV capacity by 2018.[10]

In 2011, the 200 MW Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park was completed, the world's largest solar farm at the time. There are many other solar farms in Golmud, totaling 570 MW at the end of 2011, with another 500 MW expected in 2012. The Qinghai province, which contains Golmud, leads China in solar installations.[11]

Projects completed before September 30[when?] receive 1.15 yuan ($0.18) per kWh.[12]

Concentrated solar power

The 12th five year plan, for 2011 to 2015, calls for installing 1,000 MW by 2015, and 3,000 MW of concentrated solar power plants by 2020. Plants either being planned or under construction:[13]

  • 1 MW Badaling Pilot Project — collaboration between the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
  • 12 MW (short term) / 300-MW (long term) project — collaboration between Xinjiang Qingsong Building Materials and Chemicals (Group) Co. and Guodian Xinjiang Company
  • 50 MW project in Tibet by Huaneng Tibet Company
  • 100 MW project in Sichuan Abazhou by Tianwei New Energy (Aba)
  • 50 MW (TBD) by China Huadian Corporation
  • 100 MW project in Golmud by GD ENERGY
  • 100 MW project in Ningxia by Beijing Control Technology Co. Ltd
  • 100 MW project (TBD) by Avic Xi’an Aero-Engine (Group) Ltd
  • 100 MW project (TBD) by Guangdong Kangda
  • 100 MW in Gansu by SETC Tianjin
  • 1,000 MW in Qinghai by Lion International Investment Ltd.
  • 2,000 MW in Shaanxi by Shandong Penglai Dianli and eSolar


China has been the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels since 2008 and, since 2011, has produced the majority of global photovoltaics on an annualized basis.[14] Industry projections estimate that, by the end of 2017, China will have enough manufacturing capacity to produce 51 GW of photovoltaics per year, an amount over twice as large as 2010's global production of 24 GW.[15][16]

The industry is dominated by several major manufacturers. They include CHINT Group Corporation, JA Solar Holdings, Jinniu Energy, Suntech Power, Yingli, China Sunergy and Hanwha SolarOne.[17][18]


China is a large producer of polysilicon, for use in first generation solar cells around the world. A byproduct of the process is poisonous silicon tetrachloride, which is normally processed and recycled at a higher cost in the developed world, but often dumped by Chinese green startups.[citation needed] With proper recycling the polysilicon would cost $84,500 per tonne, but the Chinese companies are making it at $21,000 to $56,000 a ton.[19]

Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co., Ltd., founded in 2006 as a subsidiary of Hong Kong-invested JinkoSolar Holding Co, Ltd (NYSE Stock Code: JKS), produces solar panel photovoltaic cells and wafers. It employs more than 10,000 professionals in two factories in east China and has offshore offices and warehouse in the United States and Europe, according to the company website ( On Thursday, 15 September 2011, more than 500 people from Hongxiao Village protested over the large-scale death of fish in a nearby river. Angry protesters stormed the factory compound, overturned eight company vehicles, and destroyed the offices before police came to disperse the crowd. Protests continued on the two following nights with reports of scuffle, officials said. Chen Hongming, a deputy head of Haining's environmental protection bureau, said the factory's waste disposal had failed the pollution tests since April. The environmental watchdog has warned the factory but it had not effectively controlled the pollution, Chen added.[20]

Third-generation solar cells

ENN Solar Group is a Chinese amorphous silicon thin-film cell maker.[21] In March 2010 Anwell Technologies Limited began its mass production of the 1.1 × 1.4-metre amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel from its plant in Henan, China, marking a milestone on a journey that began about two years ago.[22] A triple-junction thin-film silicon cell structure that is claimed to have produced conversion efficiencies of 14.8% is also in development phase at Mitsubishi Electric.[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Snapshot of Global PV 1992-2013" (PDF). 2nd Edition ISBN 978-3-906042-19-0. International Energy Agency - Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. 2014. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c National Survey Report of PV Power Applications in China 2011
  3. ^ China's Big Push for Renewable Energy
  4. ^ "Snapshot of Global PV 1992-2014" (PDF). International Energy Agency — Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. 30 March 2015. Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "China solar set to be 5 times 2020 target". Reuters. May 5, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2015". European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). May 2011. p. 39. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "China Targets 70 Gigawatts of Solar Power to Cut Coal Reliance". Bloomberg News. May 16, 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013-2017
  9. ^ John Parnell (2014-08-05). "China sets 13GW solar target for 2014". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  10. ^ Michael Barker (2014-08-29). "China on Track to Have Over 100 GW of PV Capacity Installed in 2018". NPD SolarBuzz. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  11. ^ Qinghai leads in photovoltaic power
  12. ^ Sun shines on development of power sector
  13. ^ China to Have 3 GW of Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) by 2020
  14. ^ "Annual Solar Photovoltaics Production by Country, 1995-2012". Earth Policy Institute. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  15. ^ "Annual Solar Photovoltaics Module Production in China, 2007-2013, with Projection to 2017". Earth Policy Institute. 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  16. ^ "World Solar Photovoltaics Production, 1975-2012". Earth Policy Institute. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  17. ^ a b GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Limited
  18. ^ a b Solar Energy Booming in China
  19. ^ Washington Post. Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China. March 9, 2008.
  20. ^ "Protest over factory pollution in E China enters third day". China Daily. Xinhua. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011. Hangzhou - Hundreds of villagers in East China's Zhejiang Province protested for the third day on Saturday at a solar panel manufacturer, whose parent is a New York-listed firm, over concerns of its harmful wastes. 
  21. ^ IFC invests $136M in Chinese thin-film silicon maker
  22. ^ "Anwell starts ramp of 120MW a-Si thin film plant". PV 2010-03-29. 
  23. ^ "Silicon thin film triple junction cell boost efficiencies to 14.8% for Mitsubishi". PV 2010-02-17. 

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