January 21, 2016 / 11:03 AM / 2 years ago

China's solar capacity overtakes Germany in 2015, industry data show

BEIJING, Jan 21 (Reuters) - China is likely to have surpassed Germany in the fourth quarter as the country with the most solar capacity, despite missing its target for 2015, industry data showed on Thursday.

China’s installed photovoltaic solar capacity stood at 43 gigawatts (GW) by the end of the year, up about 15 gigawatts from 2014, the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

This compares with a figure of roughly 40 GW for Germany, according to data from that country’s Federal Network Agency and Fraunhofer ISE.

Germany’s installed solar capacity stood at 38.24 GW at the end of 2014, up 8 percent, the Federal Network Agency has said, while installed capacity added in 2015 was roughly 1.3 GW, according to Fraunhofer ISE.

China had been on track to surpass Germany.

Data from China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) shows installations were up 60 percent in 2014, and up 35 percent in the first nine months of 2015, to 37.45 GW.

The NEA set an aggressive 2015 target of 23.1 GW for solar farms, but did not issue a target for the “distributed solar” category, which it defines as installations smaller than 20 megawatts, after installing just a quarter of its 2014 target.

“Overall, China managed to exceed its 35 GW set in the framework of the twelfth five-year plan, clearly demonstrating the political commitment,” said Frank Haugwitz, director of Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory Co, citing the previous targets China had set for the period from 2011 to 2015.

The NEA has yet to release final fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 figures.

Solar makes up roughly 2.85 percent of China’s installed capacity, Reuters calculations using official data show.

China will add 15 GW of solar capacity in 2016, the NEA chief said in December. (Reporting by Adam Rose; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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