China deployed around 11.4 GW of new PV generation capacity in the first six months of this year, according to statistics released today by the country’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

Around 6.82 GW of the new capacity was accounted for by large scale PV plants with the 4.58 GW balance coming from distributed generation arrays, according to the state body. Northwest Chinaboasted the largest share of new PV plants – with 3.43 GW of new grid-connected capacity – followed by the north of the huge nation, with 3.29 GW; and the east, with 2.28 GW.

The relatively modest new additions took China’s cumulative installed capacity to 185.5 GW, according to the NEA figures. Large scale solar parks make up around 130.5 GW of China’s PV capacity with just over 55 GW coming from small arrays.

With the world’s biggest solar market paralyzed by uncertainty about the specifics of a new national solar subsidy program during the first three months of the year, installations picked up from 5.2 GW to 6.2 GW in the second quarter after policy details were confirmed.

Market rebound

China is expected to experience a deluge of new installations from next month as developers of projects which qualify for state subsidies rush to get them connected by December 31 in order to receive their full subsidy.

To put the first-half, 11.4 GW figure into context, China installed 44.1 GW of new solar in 2018 and a year earlier the volume was a record 52.83 GW, according to NEA figures.

After China’s first-quarter statistics were released in April, analyst the Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory Co Ltd maintained its prediction China would install 35-40 GW of new capacity this year. Investment bank Roth Capital said staying on track for an expected 40 GW would hinge on whether the NEA was able to publish details of projects approved for subsidies by the end of June.

In another report released in July, analyst Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables said the world’s largest solar market was likely to settle at 30-40 GW of new solar for 2019, against a backdrop of competitive procurement processes. European PV industry association SolarPower Europe was even more optimistic, predicting at least 43 GW of new PV capacity in China this year.