In 2008, China was the largest producer of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels worldwide and transported approximately one third of all shipments of PV (Zhang, He, 2013). However before this period its own domestic market for PV power was small.
Yet, from 2008 onwards, this market has been rapidly growing: partly due to the financial crisis and hence loss of foreign trade and partly to the generally high cost of PV in China falling dramatically in 2009. China’s necessity for this renewable market is also growing because of its trade ruptures with the US and EU and its year by year demand increase for electricity.
As a whole, China’s solar resources are rich, with more than two-thirds of the country receiving over 2000 hours of sunshine a year (Zhao, Zhang, Hubbard, Yao, 2013). Unfortunately, as the map in fig.1 shows, these areas are mainly in the west and north, away from the heavily industrious regions of the southeast where energy demand is highest. To counteract this, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has interconnected not only many western large-scale power plants to the grid but also many smaller, scattered power plants which could not individually present at maximum efficiency, for free. They also stated that they were optimising the Qinghai large-scale plants by building new lines to connect them to grids and expanding the transformer project (SGCC, 2013).
Zhang and He (2013) show that off-grid installation in rural, remote areas used to hold the highest proportion of PV installations in China but from 2011, on-grid PV installations have held a larger share. They show that to keep interest in renewable PV high, China has implemented many new policies to subsidise PV usage and promulgate it. The “Golden Sun Demonstration Projects” policy has provided financial support in the numbers of 50% subsidising of on-grid bidding price and 70% for off-grid. Another scheme, the “Solar Roofs Plan” has greatly accelerated the application of PV in urban areas by providing 50% subsidising of the bidding price for essential PV equipment such as grid PV converters and lead acid storage batteries. Additionally China has also implemented an FIT (feed-in-tariff) scheme which is another subsidiary project.
To conclude, China’s PV market is growing at a fast rate and the new programmes for financial support show the government’s backing for solar PV adoption. However, when considering the global picture, Zhao et al (2013) state that China’s PV industry is behind in areas such as cell/component efficiency, production equipment technology and testing technology.
Zhang, S., He, Y. (2013) Analysis on the development and policy of solar PV in China. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. [Online]. 21 (05). pp. 393-401. [date accessed: 14/02/13]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032113000269
Zhao, Z., Zhang, S., Hubbard, B., Yao, X. (2013) The emergence of the solar photovoltaic power industry in China. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. [Online]. 21 (05). pp.229-236. [date accessed: 15/02/13]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032113000221
STATE GRID CORPORATION OF CHINA. (2013) SGCC has the World’s Fastest Growth in PV Power with Its Support for New Energy Integration. [Online] Available from: http://www.sgcc.com.cn/ywlm/mediacenter/headline/09/296564.shtml. [date accessed: 15/02/14].