China Installs 33.6 GW of Solar Capacity in Q1 2023

Investments in solar rose 177% YoY with RMB52.2 billion


China installed 33.6 GW of solar capacity in the first quarter of 2023, marking an decrease of 3% quarter-over-quarter, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA).

The country’s cumulative solar installations touched 430 GW during the quarter, an increase of nearly 33.7% year-on-year (YoY). Investments in solar increased by 177.6% YoY, with RMB52.2 billion (~$7.54 billion).

China installations

The installed capacity of wind power also went up to 380 GW, an increase of 11.7% YoY.

China’s total installed power capacity stood at 2.62 TW at the end of the quarter, a YoY increase of 9.1%.

Despite the capacity growth, the cumulative average utilization of power projects across the country from January to March 2023 was 868 hours, 31 hours less YoY. This decrease can be attributed to lower utilization of hydropower, thermal power, and nuclear power.

However, wind power utilization increased by 61 hours YoY to 615 hours, while solar power generation increased by 3 hours to 303 hours.

Moreover, the investment in power projects of significant power generation enterprises across the country was RMB126.4 billion (~$18.25 billion), a 55.2% YoY increase.

The country had failed to achieve its projected target of 108 GW of solar installation in 2022. The slippage was partially attributed to Covid-19 lockdowns and the phasing out of the subsidy regime that made 2022 the first year without incentives for the country’s solar sector.

China has set a massive target of 160 GW of solar and wind energy capacity additions in 2023. China aims to raise the proportion of wind and solar power in total electricity consumption to 15.3% from 13.8% last year and the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 18.3% from 17.4% in 2022.

In a guideline, the NEA had said China would steadily promote the construction of offshore wind power bases and develop offshore solar projects in 2023.

According to an International Renewable Energy Agency report, China established itself as a clean energy leader adding 141 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2022. In the first nine months of 2022, solar capacity additions alone accounted for 52.6 GW.