When encouraging new solar projects, it’s important to promote quality over quantity. This distinction may become relevant to the debate soon, as China’s National Energy Administration released a report stating that the country has added 7.7 GW of solar power to their grid in the first six months of 2015.
6.69 GW comprised of utility-scale, larger solar projects, while the remaining 1.04 GW went into residential, or distributed solar installations. Experts do not find these numbers surprising, and in fact, are actually skeptical of the numbers reported from China.
PV-Tech reported that a solar industry consultant named Frank Haugwitz expressed concern that certain province in China were doing very well adopting solar, while others were not finding the transition easy. Residential solar installations face more constraints than utility scale projects.
Greentech Media has also questioned the numbers from China’s National Energy Administration, examining the quality of the solar power projects themselves. Looking at the official report may not reveal the entire story.
For instance, according to a January Bloomberg report, 23% of the solar panels tested around the country did not meet China’s own technical standards. The report also stated that “project owners have faced interconnection delays, which served to cut installations by 3 gigawatts in 2014 compared to 2013 levels.”
China itself admits that the increased solar capacity in the grid caused congestion, and as a result 9% of residential solar panels were not operating for the first half of 2015.
It is a little depression to think that global solar adoption may soon face the problem of “adopters” merely pretending to help solve the problem, when in truth they just want to look like they care for whatever reason. Legislation dictating that companies reduce emissions will run into the same problem: some people will fudge the numbers. However, the fact that there is now social pressure to at least seem environmentally friendly, especially for a country that relies heavily on manufacturing, means that the environmental movement has come a long way.