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China Installed Record 12 Gigawatts of Solar Panels in 2013

China installed a record 12GW of solar panels last year. (Photo: Wikipedia)

China installed a record 12GW of solar panels last year. (Photo: Wikipedia)

China installed a record 12 gigawatts of solar panels in 2013, making the nation home to more photovoltaic panels than anywhere else on earth.

Bloomberg reports China installed nearly as many solar panels last year as there are total panels in the entire United States.

Solar panels have mostly been installed in the sunnier western provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang and Qinghai. China’s state-owned solar companies are now the world’s biggest owners of solar assets, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based research firm.

“The 2013 figures show the astonishing scale of the Chinese market,” Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at New Energy Finance, told Bloomberg. “PV (photovoltaic) is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives.”

Many developers rushed to complete PV projects before the end of December, at which time a 1-yuan (17 cent) per kilowatt-hour incentive ended. Some analysts believe that may have resulted in an additional 2GW of additional solar power generated that was not included in the 12GW figure.

Last September, the Chinese government announced it would offer significant tax breaks to companies that produce solar energy products. The Ministry of Finance extended a 50 percent value-added tax (VAT) rebate to photovoltaic manufacturers.

The environmental group Greenpeace refutes the 12GW figure, claiming China only generated a still-impressive 9.5- 10.7GW.

China was the world’s largest solar market in 2013, overtaking longtime leader Germany. Chinese solar output increased dramatically from 2012, when a total of 3.6GW were produced. New Energy Finance projects the nation of 1.35 billion inhabitants will add an additional 14GW of capacity in 2014.

The Chinese government announced on Friday a target output of 10GW for this year. Chinese solar stocks fell on the news; Wall Street analysts had projected 12GW of solar output for 2014.

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