China solar exports hit 58 GW in first three quarters of 2019

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – China’s solar module exports rose to the equivalent of 58 gigawatts of capacity in the first three quarters of the year, compared to 41.6 GW for all of 2018, as a slowdown at home pushed panel sales overseas, an industry association said.

Wang Bohua, vice-chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, also told a conference on Thursday that the value of the country’s solar component exports hit $17.74 billion over the first three quarters of 2019 and could exceed $20 billion for the whole year, an increase of 25% over 2018.

Europe accounted for 34.9% of the export sales in the first three quarters, and the United States only 0.2%, Wang said.

Beijing said in May last year it would wind down subsidies to the nation’s solar industry to reflect rapidly declining construction and generation costs. It also sought to tackle a spiralling payment backlog amounting to more than 100 billion yuan ($14.2 billion).

China has been trying to achieve what is known as “grid price parity”, in which renewable energy suppliers are capable of competing subsidy-free with coal-fired power generators.

New capacity additions in China came in at 15.99 GW in the first three quarters of 2019, Wang said. New installations for the year were expected to reach around 25-30 GW this year, down from a record 53 GW in 2017 and 44 GW in 2018.

Most of the capacity added in 2019 has been subsidy-free, and all new projects are expected to operate without government support by 2021.

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