China to boost solar power

July 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM
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BEIJING, July 16 (UPI) -- China has set a target of 35 gigawatts of installed capacity for solar power generation by 2015.

China's State Council, in announcing the 35-gigawatt target on Monday, said 10 gigawatts would be added annually from 2013 to 2015, China's official news agency Xinhua reports.

Last year, the National Energy Administration had set a target of 21 gigawatts of solar power by the end of 2015. As of year-end 2012, China had 8 gigawatts of capacity installed.

The government's focus on the domestic solar market comes as China faces a glut of domestically produced solar equipment amid weakening global demand and trade disputes.

The United States launched anti-dumping and countervailing investigations into China-made solar cells and modules in 2011, imposing anti-dumping tariffs of up to 249.96 percent and countervailing duties of up to 15.97 percent in a final ruling of the International Trade Commission last November.

The European Union has also set an 11.8 percent tariff on Chinese solar panel exports starting from June 6, with the tariff set to rise to 47.6 percent after August 6 if both sides fail to reach an agreement.

China's Suntech, once the world's largest producer of solar panels, declared bankruptcy in March.

"The country's solar companies are facing widespread operating difficulties as global demand for solar products has slowed, product exports are facing heavy resistance and the sector's development is uncoordinated," the State Council said Monday, Xinhua reports.

The government also said it would boost financial support for the solar sector and urged banks to lend to large and promising solar panel producers.

The new 35 gigawatt target "confirms previous expectations that the Chinese government would solidify a significantly higher target than previously for 2015," Jenny Chase, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance was quoted as saying by the Financial Times, adding that the target of adding 10 gigawatts annually "seems entirely achievable."

Nearly all of China's domestically-listed solar companies experienced a rise in stock prices Monday following the news, the Global Times reports.

In reaction to the new target, Chinese solar technology company Yingli Green Energy told the Times Monday that it will intensify efforts to expand the domestic market. That market, which accounted for 13 percent of the company's total sales in the first quarter, is expected to grow to 33 percent in the second quarter.

But Yingli expects the EU market to fall to 35 percent or lower in the second quarter from 53 percent in the first quarter.

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