In 2016, the global new installed capacity of photovoltaics was about 73GW, as shown in Figure 1. In 2016, China’s newly installed capacity was 34.54 GW, the US 14.1GW, Japan 8.6GW, Europe 6.9GW, and India 4GW. The market share of countries such as Europe and Japan is gradually shifting to markets such as China, the United States, and India, and a number of emerging markets are accelerating their development.
According to the prediction of the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2030, the global cumulative installed capacity of photovoltaics is expected to reach 1,721 GW, and will further increase to 4,670 GW by 2050, with huge development potential.
The photovoltaic industry is a strategic emerging industry with international competitive advantages in China. For a long time, as the competent authority of the industry, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has always attached great importance to the development of China’s photovoltaic industry. Through policy measures such as planning, standards and access conditions, it has effectively promoted the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry and the scale of the photovoltaic cell manufacturing industry has expanded rapidly. In 2015, China’s polysilicon, silicon wafers, batteries, modules, and inverters accounted for 48%, 76%, 65%, 68% and 40% of the global market, respectively. The market share ranks among the top in the world, and it has become a global photovoltaic manufacturing country. The photovoltaic industry has become one of the advantageous industries for China to participate in international competition.
In 2016, the global photovoltaic module output was about 72GW, of which China’s photovoltaic module output was about 53Gw, an increase of over 15.7% year-on-year, ranking first in the world for 10 consecutive years. In recent years, with the continuous advancement of production technology and the continuous emergence of technologies such as half-cell, MBB, and shingled tiles, the cost of photovoltaic power generation has continued to decline, and the processing costs of some enterprises have even dropped below 2.45 yuan/W (0.35 US dollars/W). China’s photovoltaic module output from 2010 to 2016 is shown in Figure 2.
As of the end of 2016, China’s new photovoltaic power generation installed capacity was 34.54 million kW, and the cumulative installed capacity was 77.42 million kW (the cumulative installed capacity from 2010 to 2016 is shown in Figure 3). Both the new and cumulative installed capacity are the world’s largest. Among them, the cumulative installed capacity of distributed power sources is 67.1 million kW, the cumulative installed capacity of distributed power is 10.32 million kW, and the annual power generation is 66.2 billion kW·h, accounting for 1% of China’s total annual power generation.
Photovoltaic power generation is gradually shifting to the central and eastern regions. In 2016, the newly added photovoltaic power generation capacity in the country was 9.74 million kW in the northwest, accounting for 28% of the country; the area outside the northwest was 24.8 million kW, accounting for 72% of the country. Among them, there are 9 provinces in the central and eastern regions with newly installed capacity exceeding 1 million kW, namely Shandong 3.22 million kW, Henan 2.44 million kW, Anhui 2.25 million kW, Hebei 2.03 million kW, Jiangxi 1.85 million kW, Shanxi 1.83 million kW, Zhejiang 1.75 million kW, Hubei 1.38 million kW, Jiangsu 1.23 million kW. In the first half of 2017, the trend of shifting from the northwest to the central and eastern regions became more obvious. The newly installed capacity in East China was 8.25 million kW, an increase of 1.5 times year-on-year, accounting for 34% of the country’s total. Among them, the newly installed capacity of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui all exceeded 2 million kW; the newly installed capacity of central China was 4.23 million kW, an increase of 37% year-on-year, accounting for 17.3% of the country’s total; the newly installed capacity in Northwest China was 4.16 million kW, a year-on-year decrease of 50%.
The development of the installed capacity of distributed power generation has accelerated. In 2016, the newly added installed capacity was 4.24 million kW, an increase of 200% over 2015. Distributed photovoltaics in the central and eastern regions have increased significantly. The top 5 provinces with newly installed capacity are Zhejiang (86 million kW), Shandong (750,000 kW), Jiangsu (530,000 kW), Anhui (460,000 kW) and Jiangxi (310,000 kW). In 2017, the installed capacity of distributed power sources was mainly concentrated in the three provinces of Anhui, Zhejiang, and Shandong. The new installed capacity all exceeded 1 million kW, a year-on-year increase of more than two times. The new installed capacity of distributed photovoltaic in the three provinces accounted for 54.2% of the country.
Chinese national leaders pay special attention to poverty alleviation work in the photovoltaic industry. On April 24, 2016, General Secretary Xi Jinping inspected a farmer who installed a 3 kW photovoltaic poverty alleviation power station in Jinzhai County, Anhui, which became a typical case of photovoltaic precision poverty alleviation. On July 19, 2016, General Secretary Xi Jinping, who was on inspection in Ningxia, went to Yuanlong Immigration Village, Wenning Town, Yongning County, and visited the edible mushroom photovoltaic greenhouse in the village. On August 23 of the same year, General Secretary Xi Jinping came to the Xining Branch of SPIC Solar Power Co., Ltd. to investigate Qinghai Province’s development of clean energy by relying on its natural resource advantages and promote the development of the photovoltaic industry chain. On January 24, 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping went to Zhangjiakou, Hebei to inspect a 400 kW village-level power station and learn more about how the power station can play a role in benefiting farmers and helping the poor. In 2017, in the mid-year work conference of the State Grid Corporation of China, it was proposed to promote industrial transformation and upgrading, and accelerate the construction of electric vehicle energy storage, distributed new energy and grid coordinated control systems, and completed 55,000 electric energy substitution projects and the target of 62 billion kW·h of electric energy.
Distributed power generation (photovoltaic power generation) is an indispensable and important supplement to centralized power supply. In recent years, under the guidance of various national, provincial, and municipal encouragement policies and subsidies, distributed power generation will become an important development direction in the future energy field.