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China Just Dealt a Massive Blow to the Solar Industry


The impact of China’s policy changes will be widespread, and no solar company will be spared.

The solar industry has had an impressive run over the past year on strong demand for solar panels around the world. No country has been more aggressive in growing solar installations than China. Out of 99 gigawatts (GW) of solar projects built in 2017, 53 GW were built in China.

That bullish streak came to an end on Monday when China took steps to slow its solar industry . Feed-in tariffs that provide set prices for electric power sent to the grid will be cut and distributed generation (DG) projects will be capped until further notice. Early estimates are that solar installations will fall to around 35 GW in 2018, with a lot of that already installed. The impact of the policy changes will be widespread, and no company will be spared.

China is undercutting its own solar industry

China’s solar cuts were widespread and will affect most of the downstream industry. China’s National Development and Reform Commission said there would be no more planned ground-mounted solar projects in 2018 and subsidies for future ground-mounted projects would be forbidden.

The feed-in tariff for solar projects was also reduced by 0.05 yuan per kilowatt-hour, a cut of 6.7% to 9% depending on the region, which will reduce the payback of solar project development. Those changes are effective June 1, 2018, so there was no notice of the cut.

Distributed solar farms were also capped at 10 GW for 2018, a level that may have already been exceeded.

Add it up and China’s solar installations are going to plunge in the second half of 2018. Analysts from Roth Capital are guessing that 35 GW of installations will be built in 2018, which seems about right given the cuts. But we know demand is going to fall given China’s reduced quotas and solar subsidies.

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