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GTM Research: China becomes world’s largest market for solar panels


China has emerged as the world’s largest market for solar panels and in 2015 is expected to be home to a quarter of the planet’s new energy capacity from solar panels, according to a new report from GTM Research. China is rapidly adding as much power generation as possible, and solar is just one source of new energy generation in the country.

美国市场研究公司GTM Research的最新报告显示,中国已成为全球最大的太阳能电池板市场,2015年,中国由太阳能电池板生成的新能源量占全球总量的1/4。中国正迅速增加发电量,太阳能只是中国新能源发电的来源之一。

China is expected to install 14 gigawatts of solar panels in 2015 out of a total 55 gigawatts worth of solar panels installed worldwide. In addition to China, countries in the Asia Pacific region are supposed to count for more than half of the world’s new solar panel capacity this year, including many new solar installations in Japan, and an emerging potentially huge market in India. One gigawatt is around the size of a large natural gas or nuclear plant.


Usually when people think about solar panels they picture panels installed on the rooftops of homes or buildings. And while that market is growing in some countries, the vast majority of solar panels being installed in China are mounted on the ground, organized into big solar farms, installed in remote areas and sold to utilities. China’s National Energy Administration says that out of the 28.05 gigawatts of solar panels that were connected to the country’s grid by the end of 2014, 23.38 gigawatts came from the ground-mounted type of solar panels.


The solar panel farms in China are getting massive, particularly in the Gobi desert. This NASA satellite shows images of a sprawling solar panel farm in Dunhuang, in north west China’s Gansu Province, that has tripled in size between 2012 and today. Gansu Province alone had a total installed solar panel capacity in 2014 of 5.2 gigawatts, and it’s supposed to add another 0.5 gigawatts this year.


GTM Research analyst Adam James says the new growth in solar panels in China is being pushed by a new feed-in tariff program in the country (solar generators can be paid a fixed competitive price for the energy created), and the Chinese government’s ambitious “Five Year Plan,” which calls for a certain amount of solar installed in the next few years.

GTM Research分析师亚当•詹姆斯表示,中国太阳能电池板的新增长受本国新的能源补助项目(太阳能发电机产出的电能可获得具有竞争力的固定价格)以及中国政府雄心勃勃的“五年计划”推动,该计划要求在未来几年内新增一定的太阳能装机量。

China needs as much electricity it can get, and because the country has more recently started to tackle its massive air pollution crisis, solar is seen as a cleaner way than coal to boost the electricity supply. Three gigawatts worth of coal power-producing plants were actually closed in 2014, and 18 gigawatts have been closed to date in the country. China pledges to eliminate 20 gigawatts of coal capacity over the next five years to help with air pollution.


China has long been the world’s largest manufacturer or solar panels, and the industry famously used low-cost government loans to expand solar panel production dramatically, causing solar prices to hit their current historic lows. 


But now China is buying a lot of its own panels, helping give the country dominance in the global solar economy. About a third of the total solar module output from China in 2014 went to solar panel farms installed in China, according to China’s National Energy Administration.



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