China now represents the largest market for solar photovoltaic (PV) technology in the world — with a total installed capacity of 43.2 gigawatts (GW) — according to the latest statistics from the National Energy Administration (NEA). The new statistics echo those released by the state news agency Xinhua, revealing that the country had recently surpassed the 43 GW of capacity milestone. The news means that Germany has lost its position as the overall top market for solar PV in the world — and very likely will never regain that distinction (particularly due to the size of the country, the competitiveness of solar power worldwide, and the huge growth in the three most populous countries in the world — China, India, and the US).
Much of the country’s aforementioned solar PV capacity was installed just last year — 15.1 GW, to be exact — demonstrating just how rapidly things have been changing in the market. Considering that China is the most populous country in the world currently, and also one of the most robust economically, there’s still a fair bit of room for further growth — which will very likely be demonstrated over the coming years as solar PV installation growth ramps up there.
The country’s solar PV capacity has increased roughly 13-fold since just 2011. Interestingly, though, much of the country’s installed capacity has remained underutilized — with roughly 30% remaining unused in 2015 in the province of Gansu, and 26% in Xinjiang, according to the NEA. This was reportedly the result of grid constraints in the areas involved. Following behind China, Germany currently possesses around 38.4 GW of capacity according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance — or 39.6 GW according to the Federal Network Agency. The US is currently in third — with around 27.8 GW of generation capacity installed.
By Henry Lindon