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What Is Going on With China’s Crazy Clean Energy Installation Figures?

What Is Going on With China’s Crazy Clean Energy Installation Figures?


China says it installed more wind than the rest of the world put together last year.

Analysts have been left dumbfounded after China last month released official 2020 wind and solar installation figures that were seemingly too big to be true.

The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) “stunned the world,” according to Wood Mackenzie senior analyst Xiaoyang Li, when it announced total wind and solar capacity additions of 120 gigawatts.

Notwithstanding uncertainty over COVID-19’s impact on the supply chain, China had been expected to report big numbers for last year. The International Energy Agency, for example, had predicted the country would add around 32 GW of wind and 50 GW of solar.

But the magnitude of the official figures caught even seasoned China watchers off guard. BloombergNEF had forecast 36 GW each of new solar and wind in 2020 and the official figure for PV capacity additions was 48 GW AC.

That’s equivalent to almost two thirds of all the solar power that the U.S. had installed up until the end of 2019. And it included 22 GW of installations last December alone, roughly double the amount installed in the same month in 2019.

Still, “the solar number is kind of explainable, or at least within imagination,” Beijing-based BloombergNEF analyst Jonathan Luan Dong said in an interview. BloombergNEF had been expecting to increase its solar forecast, perhaps up to around 40 GW, he said.

And end-of-year installation peaks are normal for the market, “especially over the past couple of years when there’s [been] a tariff drop after the end of the year,” he explained. So 48 GW was surprising but “not too much of a shock.”

“In comparison, the wind numbers just challenged our imagination,” he said.

Did China really install more wind than the entire rest of the world?

The NEA reported almost 72 GW of new wind for 2020, which is more than bodies such as the Global Wind Energy Council were expecting to see installed in the entire world.

“December activity alone may have topped 47 GW, which is higher than total Chinese wind capacity additions from 2018 and 2019 combined,” noted Wood Mackenzie’s Li in an email.

The apparent magnitude of China’s 2020 renewables buildout puts observers in a bind. “Even though we don’t have conclusive evidence to say the government is not telling the truth, it’s just not possible,” said Luan.

Source : greentechmedia
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network