Solar Energy in China Overview
As of right now, China is the world’s largest market for both photovoltaics and solar thermal energy. In addition to that, China has also been the world’s leading installer of solar photovoltaics, and in 2015, they became the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic power, just narrowly surpassing Germany. Moreover, China was the first country to pass 100 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity, and by the end of 2018, that number peaked at 174 GW.
By May 2018, China holds the record for the largest operational solar project with their 1,547-MW project at Tengger. With that said, the contribution to the total electric energy production remains modest as the average capacity factor of solar power plants is relatively low at 17%. Additionally, of the 6,412 TWh electricity that was produced in China in 2017, 118.2 Twh was generated by solar power, which is equivalent to 1.84% of total electricity production. With all these statistics, it is China’s goal to reach 1,300 GW of solar capacity by 2050. If this goal were reached, it would be the source with the largest installed capacity in China.
Aside from solar photovoltaics, solar water heating is also extensively implemented, with a total installed capacity of 290 GWth at the end of 2014. This represented about 70% of the world’s total installed solar thermal capacity.
History of Solar Energy in China
In 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission unveiled their plans to grow China’s installed solar capacity up to 1,800 MW by 2020. But in 2009, Wang Zhongying, a National Development and Reform Commission official, mentioned at a solar energy conference in Shanghai that the plan might actually be exceeded several-fold already, so the new estimation was that the installed capacity could possibly reach as much as 10 GW by 2020.
In 2010, a new feed-in tariff was introduced, and projects completed before September 30, 2012 received 1.15 yuan ($0.18) per kWh. Because of that, solar power deployment greatly exceeded initial government plans. To begin with, the 200 MW Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park was completed in 2011, which was the world’s largest solar farm at the time. Additionally, there were many other solar farms in the Golmud area, and the total installed capacity was 570 MW at the end of 2011, with another 500 MW expected in 2012. Because of that, the Qinghai province, which contains Golmud, was leading China in terms of solar installation.
Even though China seemed to be flourishing with their solar projects, the Chinese PV production system still faced severe external shocks since 2010. A sharp recession in the global demand occurred due to institutional alterations in the German market in 2010, and it was followed by anti-dumping duties and anti-subsidy countervailing duties on Chinese PV products enforced in both the U.S.A. and the E.U. Additionally, Chinese PV manufacturers, who were already running on their full capacity, faced a difficult situation in 2011 and 2012 with huge financial loses. This led to the bankruptcy of some important actors, such as SunTech Power in 2013 being defaulted on $541 million of convertible bonds.
So as to rescue the massive PV industry with its large labor market and assets, the Chinese government introduced a comprehensive set of policies, primarily to stimulate the domestic market. In other words, there was a construction of several PV power plants all over the country. As a result, the annual installed capacity in China has experienced a conspicuous growth since 2011.
In May 2011, the National People’s Congress changed the solar target again. They determined that for 2015, the official minimum PV target would be 5 GW, and for 2020, that would be around 20-30 GW. But according to a 2012 forecast by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, that prediction was even larger and more ambitious, with the total installed capacity predicted to reach between 47 GW and 66 GW by 2017.
The solar capacity target had been upped yet again in May 2014, with 70 GW as the new target. In October 2014, China aimed to install 100 GW of solar as well as 200 GW of wind, 350 GW of hydro, and 58 GW of nuclear by 2020. Several other predictions were made starting in 2014. The first was a forecast by the market research firm NPD Group where they predicted that China would have over 100 GW of PV capacity by 2018. Then in October 2015, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) set an ambitious 23.1 GW target for 2015, and at the same time, China planned to install 150 GW of solar power by 2020, which was an increase of 50 GW from the 2020 target that was announced on October 2014.
The goal of 105 GW that was set by the Chinese authorities for the year 2020 was passed in July 2017. In the first nine months of 2017, China installed 43 GW of solar power, thus causing the Chinese Government to more than double the original quota to 213 for 2020. With all these achievements, out of 6,412 TWh electricity that was produced in 2017, China was able to have 118.2 TWh that was generated by solar power, which is equivalent to 1.84% of the total electricity production.
Solar Photovoltaics Installation in China
Solar PV Installation by Province
A majority of the solar power capacity that is installed in China is in the form of large PV power plants that are located in the west part of the country. Most PV power plants are located on the west side, simply because this area is much less populated than the eastern part but with better solar resources and available land.
Installed Solar PV Capacity by Province
|Province||MW End of 2015||MW End of 2016||MW End of 2017||MW End of 2018|
|Tibet Autonomous Region||170||330||790||980|
Concentrated Solar Power in China
Aside from solar photovoltaics, China also has a large potential for concentrated solar power (CSP), especially in the southwestern part of the country. The highest daily mean values of direct normal radiation are usually found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Sichuan Basin, at 9 kWh/m2. Practical limitations for the deployment of CSP include mountainous terrain and distance from energy load centers, typically concentrated in the east.
According to the 12th fifth-year plan, for 2011 to 2015, an installation of 1,000 MW by 2015 and 3,000 MW of CSP plants by 2020 was announced. However, at the end of 2014, only 14 MW of CSP were functional in the country.
The following are the plants that are being planned or are under construction.
- 1 MW Badaling Pilot Project: a collaboration between the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
- 12 MW (short term) / 300-MW (long term) project: a 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
Solar Water Heating in China
China is the first country for solar water heating capacity in the world, with 290 GWth in operation at the end of 2014. That number accounted for about 70% of the total world capacity. In terms of capacity per unit of population, China ranks 7th in the world with 213 kWh per 1,000 people. Most of the installed capacity (92%) was evacuated tube water heaters.
The Future of Solar Energy in China
According to a new study, solar power now costs the same as or less than, electricity from the grid in many of China’s cities. It’s true that as of right now, most of the country’s electricity comes from coal, but China is still aggressively pursuing renewable energy. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that China’s solar capacity will grow more than 7% per year from 2015 to 2040.
It helps that advances in solar technology have helped bring solar within reach of grid parity sooner than expected in China. Before, the cost of solar photovoltaic electricity was up to 15.1 yuan per kilowatt-hour in 2000. But in 2018, it was only 0.79 yuan per kilowatt-hour. Additionally, in 2018, the Chinese government dramatically cut subsidies to the solar PV industry so as to drive it to compete with coal without government aid.
All of these statistics are pointing to the possibility of a bright future of solar energy in China. In addition to that, future research could explore how commercial and industrial solar power customers in China might benefit as grid energy storage comes down.
Solar Manufacturers in China
With all of their contributions to the solar industry, China became the world’s largest manufacturer of solar products and has been since 2008. And since 2011, the country has produced the majority of global photovoltaics on an annual basis. In fact, industry projects estimated that, by the end of 2017, China would have enough manufacturing capacity to produce 51 GW of PV modules per year. This amount is over twice as large as 2010’s global production of 24 GW.
Considering that China dominates the solar industry in terms of manufacturing products, there are all kinds of manufacturers for all kinds of solar PV products. The following are only some of the manufacturers per a particular kind of solar product.
A wafer is a thin slice of semi-conductor that used for the fabrication of integrated circuits and, in the case of photovoltaics, to manufacture solar cells. The following are some of the popular manufacturers of wafers in China.
- DMEGC Solar. Founded in September 2009, the DMEGC Solar Division is a company that specializes in developing, manufacturing, and marketing both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon wafers, cells, and modules. Currently, the company has an annual production capacity of 6,000 MTA (polysilicon), 500 MW+ (wafer), 1.6 GW (solar cell), and 900 MW+ (modules).
- JA Solar Holdings. Founded in 2005, JA Solar is a manufacturer of high-performance photovoltaic products, such as the silicon, batteries, components, and photovoltaic power plants. This company has been listed in Fortune China Top 500 and Global Top 500 New Energy Companies.
- Daquan Group. Daquan Group is a leading manufacturer of electrical, new energy, and rail transportation. The company mainly develops and produces high and low voltage electrical equipment, intelligent components, and Internet access systems.
- Dongfang Electric Emei Semiconductor Materials. Dongfang Emei Semiconductor Materials Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that provides semiconductor materials for many industrial sectors and research fields of electronic information, energy, transportation, machinery, and electricity.
- Jinko Solar. Jinko Solar is one of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers both in China and all over the world. The company distributes their solar products, solutions, and services to a diversified international utility.
- Tangshan Haitai New Energy Technology. Tangshan Haitai New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. is a manufacturing company that has been in the industry of photovoltaic technology for more than ten years now. Currently, the company has a component design capacity of 4.5 GW domestically and 1 GW overseas.
- Shanxi Lu’an Photovoltaics Technology. Founded in 2009, Shanxi Lu’an Photovoltaics Technology Co., Ltd. is a company that specializes in manufacturing photovoltaic products. The company has won numerous awards such as Top 10 National Brands of China Good PV, Top 10 Suppliers of Photovoltaic Batteries/Components, and Quality PERC Battery Suppliers.
- Luoyang Single Crystal Silicon Group. Luoyang Single Crystal Silicon Group is a high-tech enterprise that aims to provide silicon materials for scientific research, information industry, and new energy industry.
- Zhejiang Sunflower Light Energy Science and Technology. Established in 2005, Zhejiang Sunflower Light Energy Science and Technology LLC, or simply known as SUNOWE, is a company that mainly engages in R&D, production, and sales of solar energy batteries and components.
- Jiangsu Huantai Group. Jiangsu Huantai Group was founded in 1988 in Yangzhong City and entered the photovoltaic industry in 2003. Since then, the company has engaged in the manufacturing of solar photovoltaic wafers and has two manufacturing bases and six key companies.
Solar Panel Manufacturers
A solar panel is the one that absorbs sunlight as a source of energy to generate current electricity. The following are some of the most common manufacturers of solar panels.
- Trina Solar. Trina Solar Limited is a solar manufacturing company that delivers PV products, applications, and services to promote global sustainable development.
- China Sunergy. Founded in 2006, China Sunergy is a solar cell and panel products manufacturer based in Nanjing, Jiangsu.
- DelSolar. DelSolar Co., Ltd. is a solar company that engages in the research, design, manufacture, and distribution of solar cells, solar modules, as well as the development of the photovoltaic system.
- Suntech Power. Founded in 2001, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. is a solar company that is engaged in the research, development, and production of crystalline silicon solar cells and modules.
- Yingli Solar. Yingli Solar, formerly known as Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited, is a solar company that covers the manufacturing of the photovoltaic value chain from ingot casting and wafering through solar production and solar panel assembly.
- Shunfeng International Clean Energy. Shunfeng International Clean Energy Limited, commonly known as SFCE Solar, is a company that offers integrated photovoltaic services and solar power stations constructions and operations, and manufacturing of solar power products as well as solar energy storage.
- Hanwha Q CELLS. Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd. is a manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea and manufacturing facilities in South Korea, Malaysia, and China.
Solar Mounting System Manufacturers
A solar mounting system is the one that is used to fix solar panels on surfaces such as roofs, building facades, carports, or the ground. The following are some of the most popular manufacturers of all kinds of solar mounting systems.
- Xiamen Grace Solar Technology. Xiamen Grace Solar Technology Co., Ltd., or Grace Solar for short, is a high-tech enterprise that is involved in three primary services: 1) renewable energy investment, 2) engineering PV power station service, and 3) photovoltaic power station construction scheme.
- Xiamen Trip Solar Technology. Founded in 2010, Xiamen Trip Solar Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech manufacturer that specializes in RV mounts, roof mounts, ground mounts, solar carport, and other PV mounting brackets.
- Suzhou Radiant Photovoltaic Technology. Founded in 2002, Radiant is a comprehensive industrial group that integrates solar photovoltaics, PV products, PV accessories, PV instruments, metalwork, and precision processing.
- Aikang Group. Founded in 2006, Aikang Group, formerly known as Jiangsu Aikang Industrial Group Co., Ltd., is a new energy comprehensive service group that offers a wide array of solar products, including mounting systems and solar trackers.
- Xiamen Huge Energy Technology. Established in 2009, Xiamen Huge Energy is a manufacturer that specializes in the development, production, and sales of solar power generation stands.
- Xiamen Goomax Energy Technology. Xiamen Goomax Energy Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that manufactures a wide array of solar products, but their most well-known ones are arguably their solar mounting products — both ground mounting and roof mounting.
- Taizhou Jingda Amperex Technology. Taizhou Jingda Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. is a professional PV system solution provider that has developed a PV building integration system.
- Universe Solar Technology. Universe Solar, or UISOLAR for short, is a high-tech enterprise that specializes in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of PV mounting and PV greenhouse.
- Alumsolar PV Engineering. Established in 2015, Alumsolar PV Engineering Co., Ltd. is a manufacturer that focuses on the development and fabrication of solar PV mounting systems with value-added technical services.
- Xiamen Solar First Energy Technology. Xiamen Solar First Energy Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that specializes in the manufacturing of solar PV products.
Solar Battery Manufacturers
A solar battery is a deep cycle battery that provides storage for solar energy, wind, and other renewable systems. The following are the most common solar battery manufacturers in China.
- Shenzhen Herewin Technology. Established in 2004, Shenzhen Herewin Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that specializes in polymer lithium-ion battery R&D and manufacturing in China.
- Zhejiang Geya Electrical. Zhejiang Geya Electrical Co., Ltd. is a privately owned company that offers solar charge controllers, solar pump inverter, as well as solar power and storage systems and low-voltage electrical and automation control items.
- Shenzhen A&S Power Technology. Shenzhen A&S Power Technology Co., Ltd. is an OEM rechargeable battery manufacturer in China that has been in the business for over ten years now.
- Zhejiang Abshine Energy Technology. Founded in 2003, Zhejiang Abshine Energy Technology Co., Ltd. manufactures and sells solar cells, solar controllers, solar inverters, and solar storage systems.
- Guangdong Andian Energy Technology. Guangdong Andian Energy Technology Co., Ltd., or AET for short, is a national high-tech company that specializes in the research, development, production, and marketing of battery packs.
Solar Charge Controller Manufacturers
A solar charge controller is the one that regulates the energy flowing from the PV array and transfer it directly to the batteries as a DC-coupled system. The following are the most common manufacturers of solar charge controllers in China.
- Sungrow Power Supply. Founded in 1997, Sungrow Power Supply specializes in R&D, production, sales, and service of new energy power supply devices for solar energy, wind energy, and energy storage.
- Shanghai Anson Electric Technology. Shanghai Anson Electric Technology Co., Ltd., was founded in 2003, and since then, the company has grown to become a professional manufacturer and distributor of a wide variety of industrial control and protective devices.
- AMPLEC. AMPLEC is a multiple-factory located in Guangdong, China that specializes in the research, development, production, and sales of solar and power energy products.
- Baying High-Tech. Jiangxi Baiying High-Tech Holdings Techno., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that specializes in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of advanced inverter, solar system, high-frequency chargers, and many more solar power products.
- Epsolar Technology. Founded in March 2007, Beijing Epsolar Technology Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that specializes in the research, manufacturing, and marketing of power products.
Solar Tracker Manufacturers
A solar tracker is simply a device that primarily directs solar panels or modules toward the sun. The following are some of the common manufacturers of solar trackers in China.
- Arctech Solar Holding. Arctech Solar Holding is often considered as one of the world’s leading manufacturers and solution providers of solar tracking and racking systems.
- Dalian CDS Solar Energy Technology. CDS Solar is a manufacturing company that focuses on bringing innovative solar ESS products and tracking devices to their clients.
- Clenergy Technology. Clenergy Technology started out as a boutique solar solutions provider, but the company has grown to become a passionate and globally renowned renewable energy company.
- Zhenjiang Dacheng New Energy. Established in November 2006, Zhenjiang Dacheng New Energy Co., Ltd. is a high-tech enterprise that integrates R&D, production, sales, and installation of photovoltaic products.
- Daqo Group. Daqo Group is a leading manufacturer of electrical, new energy, and rail transportation.
- Qingdao Eternal Electronic. Qingdao Eternal Electronic Co., Ltd. is a manufacturing company that is deemed as a technology leader in solar tracking system solutions.
- Guangdong Xuke Solar Technology. Established in 2013, Guangdong Xuke Solar Technology, also known as Exco Solar, is a professional photovoltaic scaffold manufacturer.
- Yiteng New Energy. Yiteng New Energy, also known as Exten Solar, is a company that provides support system solutions for photovoltaic power plants all over the world.
Solar Reflector Manufacturers
A solar reflector, also known as a solar mirror, contains a substrate with a reflective layer for reflecting solar energy. The primary purpose of solar reflectors is simply to increase the sunlight intensity onto the panel by reflecting sunlight that would normally have missed the panel. The following are some of the common manufacturers of solar reflectors.
- Qingdao Huneng International Trade. Established in 2009, Qingdao Huneng International Trade Co., Ltd. is a company that is committed to manufacturing and exporting all kinds of raw and processed glass and mirror products for architectural, decorative, and residential use.
- Sinoy Mirror. Sinoy Mirror Inc. is a Sino-US joint venture that is one of the large-scale mirror manufacturers in China, and they supply customers at home and abroad with high-quality mirror glass (stock sheet, jumbo sheet, cut-size) and shaped mirrors.
- Qingdao Migo Glass. Qingdao Migo Glass Co., Ltd. is a China-based integrated enterprise that specializes in the production and sales of building glass and solar glass.
- Henan Signi Aluminium. Henan Signi Aluminium Co., Ltd. is one of the leading aluminum industrial corporations in China.
- Vital Industrial Group. Vital Industrial Group Ltd. is a professional glass manufacturer and supplier in China.
- Rider Glass. Rider Glass is a reputable glass supplier that has been providing top services for over 25 years now.
- Enesoon Holding. Enesoon Holding is a group of enterprise that deals with the manufacturing of heat transfer materials and energy equipment in CSP thermal energy storage solutions, heat exchange, and process in the energy and chemical industry.
Solar Inverter Manufacturers
A solar inverter is the one that converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a PV solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current (AC). The most common solar inverter manufacturers are the following:
- Shenzhen SORO Electronics. Shenzhen SORO Electronics is a professional UPS manufacturer in the field of UPS power for over a decade.
- INVT Solar Technology. Founded in 2002, INVT Solar Technology is a company that provides products and services in the field of industrial automation and energy power.
- Hoymiles Converter Technology. Hoymiles Converter Technology is a leading microinverter company that specializes in Module-Level Power Electronics (MLPE) solutions for global solar investors and end-users.
- Prostar Solar. Founded in 1998, Guangdong Prostar New Energy Technology, or commonly known as Prostar Solar, is a Chinese leading manufacturer of power quality and energy solutions for the industrial, residential, and commercial sectors.
- East Group. Established in 1989, East Group is one of the leading power supply manufacturers in China that provides green, energy-saving, stable, reliable, and continuous power supplies.
Latest Solar Policies in China
Currently, the U.S. federal government provides a $2,000 tax deduction for homeowners to put a PV device and another $2,000 credit if they in solar hot water or a solar thermal unit. Aside from that, some states and local jurisdictions offer even additional incentives. And since solar shingles are considered to be a PV device, all these solar incentives and tax credits can be applied to them.