UPDATE 1-China sets 2019 subsidies for large-scale solar power projects at $248 mln

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BEIJING, July 11 (Reuters) - China has estimated government subsidies for centralised solar power projects in 2019 at 1.7 billion yuan ($247.64 million), involving total installed capacity of 22.79 gigawatts (GW), the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Thursday.

A total of 3,921 projects in 22 provinces and cities have received approvals for the applicable subsidies, the NEA said in a statement.

Centralised solar power stations are large-scale arrays of photovoltaic cells as opposed to smaller rooftop arrays.

The new subsidy is part of a system of fixed subisdy amounts the Chinese government implemented this year for solar projects. China did not allocate any subsidies for centralised solar stations in 2018 as Beijing tried to ease a payment backlog that stands at 120 billion yuan.

“Projects that are included into the subsidy list will not necessarily receive the fund. They will have to complete construction and send electricity to the grid on time otherwise will be disqualified from receiving subsidy,” said the NEA statement.

It also expects about 50 GW of solar power projects, including centralised power stations, rooftop projects and systems under the poverty relief programme, are planned for 2019. Among which, 40 GW to 45 GW is expected to be completed and start generating electricity by the end of this year.

This year China will also allocate 750 million yuan worth of subsidies for rooftop power projects and for additions under the “photovoltaic poverty relief” programme that aims at alleviating rural poverty and promoting clean energy.

China has been trying to improve the profitability of solar firms and reduce the subsidies paid to renewable power operators.

By the end of 2018, China had installed solar power stations of 174 GW of capacity and generated about 177.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, official data showed. ($1 = 6.8648 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; editing by Christian Schmollinger)