Workers install final modules of a floating photovoltaic plant in Liaocheng, Shandong province, in December. (ZHANG ZHENXIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY)
More supportive policies to maximize solar power use and promote healthier photovoltaic development are in the pipeline, with sanguine forecasts of record growth in PV capacity this year, officials and experts said.
Xiong Minfeng, deputy head of the new energy and renewable energy bureau at the National Energy Administration, said recently that further efforts are expected to encourage technical innovation, cultivate a good business environment and explore new scenarios of solar power applications and new business models in response to problems that hinder the industry's development, such as limited amounts of available land for PV facility installations and insufficient energy storage projects to support solar development.
Xiong said that going forward, the NEA will collaborate with the Ministry of Natural Resources to promote the launch of policies concerning PV use on land and in forests, and a mechanism to optimize the operations of power storage facilities to maximize the use of new energies.
The measures came as a way to promote the healthier development of China's fast-developing PV industry, which has already made new breakthroughs in the past year, setting records in annual new installations, new distributed PV installations, total solar power installations and PV exports, said the China Photovoltaic Industry Association.
The country is expected to see its new photovoltaic installations this year reach a range of between 95 and 120 gigawatts, according to recent estimates from the CPIA.
Wang Bohua, honorary chairman of the CPIA, said that in recent years, the configuration of energy storage facilities in a certain proportion to solar power plants based on their capacities, as a measure to avoid waste of solar power and support stable operation of power grids, has become a prerequisite for the construction of PV power generation plants.
However, in the absence of a mature commercial model for energy storage, investment in power storage projects could be a huge burden to PV investors. In addition, few of the energy storage systems in PV power generation plants have connected to the grid, making it difficult to obtain benefits, Wang said.
Other problems that hinder the industry's sustainable development include the increasing cost of power storage in solar power generation plants, the uncertainty brought to the industry by the adjustment of electricity fees at peak hours in some provinces, and the limited availability of land for PV use. At the same time, overseas trade barriers and other countries' support for the development of local PV enterprises have brought difficulties for Chinese enterprises' export of PV products, Wang said.
Jin Lei, an official at the department of digital information under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that further efforts will be made to strengthen regulations and guide the industry to develop in an orderly manner. Jin said more efforts will also be made to support innovation, such as promoting smart PV development, and deepening global cooperation in the sector.
Last year, China's new PV installations reached a record 87.41 GW, a year-on-year increase of 59.3 percent. Among them, centralized PV installations, referring to large-scale solar plant installations, increased by 36.3 GW, a year-on-year increase of 41.8 percent, and distributed PV installations surged by 51.1 GW, a year-on-year rise of 74.5 percent, accounting for 60 percent of overall new PV installed capacity.
China's booming PV industry has also accelerated its overseas expansion in the past year. The country's PV product exports surged 80.3 percent year-on-year to hit $51.25 billion, the CPIA said.
The export value of solar modules was about $42.36 billion and the export volume was about 153.6 GW last year, up 72.1 percent and 55.8 percent, respectively, with both reaching records.
Regionally speaking, China's exports of PV products all increased to varying degrees. Among them, the European market had the highest growth rate, with a year-on-year increase of 114.9 percent, according to the association.
In 2022, Europe remained the top market for China's exports of PV facilities, accounting for about 46 percent of total export value.