China aims to install 15 gigawatts of solar energy this year, 43 per cent more than what was added in 2014, seeking to prop up its solar panel sector and boost the use of renewable energy despite a lack of transmission infrastructure.
The National Energy Administration (NEA) started last week to solicit industry feedback on the target, solar industry experts familiar with the matter said on Monday. Analysts say the target would require total investment of around $20 billion.
“The 15 GWs is just a preliminary figure,” Glenn Gu, former solar consultant with IHS in Shanghai and now an independent analyst, told Reuters.
“The NEA is seeking feedback from provincial governments before making a final decision,” said Gu, who has seen a copy of the government paper soliciting feedback.
The NEA could not be immediately reached for comment.
Officials at two US-listed Chinese solar panel makers that have also seen the proposal said the target should generate strong support from investors, who are keen to launch more projects ahead of a likely cut in solar subsidies next year.
In 2013, China unveiled a plan to more than quadruple solar generating capacity to 35 GWs by this year to shore up a solar panel sector battered by falling eurozone demand and trade disputes following the international financial crisis.
But transmission infrastructure has lagged behind the addition of generating capacity in China. That has resulted in a glut of solar farms in China’s vast western region, where there is plenty of sunshine but not enough infrastructure to harness and transmit power to the densely populated south and east.