China installed more solar in 2013 than any country ever has before

Clare Saxon Ghauri
27 January 2014

BEIJING: China installed a record-breaking amount of solar in 2013, beating previous leader Germany as well as record installations from America, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Globally 2013 was a record year for solar installations but no country added as much capacity as China. The country far exceeded industry forecasts and tripled from its 2012 total of 3.6 gigawatts to hit over 12 gigawatts in 2013. The previous record for installations in one year was 8 gigawatts from Germany in 2010.

The total was driven by a surge in Chinese solar installations at the end of 2013, which can be explained by feed-in tariffs for large PV projects connecting to the transmission grid ending on January 1, 2014.

China’s National Energy Administration first announced that 12 gigawatts had been installed earlier in January. But BNEF, which will have final data by March, says the end-of-year rush of activity could actually push China’s total to 14 gigawatts, and help the global market to grow 28% to 39 gigawatts.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market, now the sleeping dragon has awoken”, said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

The Chinese government is aiming to add 14 gigawatts of PV capacity in 2014, 60% of which it wants to be rooftop panels connected to the distribution grid.

While official figures are not yet confirmed, after China, Japan, the US and Germany were the largest markets for solar PV in 2013. It was also the first year the US market installed more solar than Germany, which had long been the global leader.

Related news:

US to beat Germany as solar world leader in 2013: infographic

Rising solar demand seen in Asian markets set to continue after EU-China deal

New global solar energy target proposed

By Clare Saxon


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