The Rise of China’s Solar Industry in 40 Years
2024-05-20 17:53

Stage 1: Start

1983: China's first 10kW civil photovoltaic power station, which is also the oldest existing photovoltaic power station in China, was built in Xiaocha Village, Yuanzi Township, Yuzhong County, Gansu Province, providing domestic electricity for 130 local households. After 40 years, the plant is still generating electricity at around 7 kW.

1984: Yunnan Semiconductor Device Factory introduced a monocrystalline silicon solar cell production line with the world's advanced level from the American SPIRE company, becoming the largest solar cell manufacturer in China at that time.

1996: Influenced by the World Solar Summit held in Zimbabwe, the Chinese government began to link the development of solar energy with the response to environmental problems and proposed 10-year countermeasures and measures, making it clear that it would "develop and promote clean energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and biomass energy according to local conditions".

1998: China signed the "Kyoto Protocol", and in the same year, the Chinese government began to pay attention to the market application of photovoltaic power generation technology.

1999: Baoding Yingli undertook the national demonstration project of industrialization of 3MW polycrystalline silicon solar cells and application systems to fill the gap in the commercial production of solar cells.

2002: Wuxi Suntech successfully established a 10MW solar cell production line, with a production capacity equivalent to the total solar cell production in China in the previous four years, shortening the gap between China and the international photovoltaic industry by 15 years.

At this stage, China has not yet formed a complete photovoltaic industry chain, equipment, production lines are imported from abroad, the only solar cell factory is still born in the last century 50-70 years of semiconductor research and development of batteries are also mainly used in the space sector. Sporadically distributed in Ningbo, Kaifeng and other places in the solar cell factory, manufacturing process is also imitated the early production of space battery process. Shi Zhengrong has said, "I returned to China at the beginning of the business, only four photovoltaic manufacturers rely on imports of equipment, some of these four manufacturers are still using the technology introduced from abroad in the 1980s.

Stage 2: Rapid Development

2004: Germany amended the Renewable Energy Act, and to ensure the transition to new energy, Germany gave a subsidy of 0.5 euros per kilowatt-hour (at that time, the price of electricity was 0.1 euros per kilowatt-hour) for power companies to buy back solar power, and residents were enthusiastic about installing solar energy. China has set off a boom in the expansion of solar cell production lines.

2005: Suntech became the first private enterprise in Chinese mainland to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In the same year, Peng Xiaofeng established LDK in Xinyu, Jiangxi Province, and put into operation 100MW of wafer production capacity, becoming the largest polysilicon wafer producer in Asia that year.

2007: GCL built the largest 1,500-ton polysilicon facility in China, up from 60 tons in 2005. China's solar cell production reached 1,088MW, accounting for 27.2% of the world's total output, becoming the world's largest producer of solar cells. However, by the end of 2007, only 100MWp of PV systems had been installed in China, accounting for about 1% of the world's cumulative installations.

2008: The financial crisis triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in the United States spread to the world, and European and American countries sharply reduced photovoltaic subsidies, resulting in the survival of China's photovoltaic industry, which is heavily dependent on overseas markets.

At this stage, China's photovoltaic raw materials, markets and equipment all rely on the breakthrough of foreign cold hydrogenation core technology, which has reversed the situation of raw material dependence on imports to a certain extent. Chen Weiping recalled: "Before 2006, China's polysilicon was heavily dependent on imports, and the annual output at that time was less than 100 tons, which was only used in the semiconductor industry." However, currently, the domestic photovoltaic industry is a typical "processing with supplied materials", lacking pricing power and discourse power, and only relying on the cheap labor advantage of the "world factory" to maintain, and has no resistance in the face of external storms.

Stages 3: Independence and Self-improvement

2009: The Chinese government launched photovoltaic concession bidding, solar photovoltaic building demonstration projects, and the Golden Sun Project, which became the beginning of China's photovoltaic strategic plan and the development of the domestic market. At this time, China's PV subsidies are still mainly incentivized by bidding and investment and installation subsidies, that is, capacity subsidies.

2011: The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the Notice on Improving the Feed-in Tariff Policy for Solar Photovoltaic Power Generation, which became a milestone in China's PV benchmark tariff, and since then China's PV subsidy policy has opened the era of electricity subsidy.

2012: CLP PV took the lead in the national 863 project and officially started the industrialization of PERC cells in China.

2013-2014: Based on the long-term technical reserves and research of many manufacturers and institutions, China's PERC cells entered the commercialization and mass production stage. Among them, JA Solar, as the first enterprise in China to open the PERC industry chain, has achieved small-batch production with a trial production efficiency of 20.3%.

2013: Through independent research and development, LONGi Green Energy led the innovation and industrial application of continuous straight-pull monocrystalline (RCZ) technology and achieved the world's largest monocrystalline silicon wafer production and sales that year.

2016: The "PV Leader Program" implemented by the National Energy Administration (NEA) led to the official start of industrial mass production of PERC cells in China, with an average efficiency of 20.5%, and LONGi Green Energy began large-scale mass production of PERC cells and modules, thus driving the industrial revolution of monocrystalline PERC.

2017: China's photovoltaic industry accounted for more than 70% of the global share, ranking first in the world in terms of scale and production capacity. In the same year, monocrystalline wafer shipments surpassed that of polysilicon and gradually became the mainstream of the market.

At this stage, with the breakthrough of RCZ technology and diamond wire cutting technology, monocrystalline has gradually replaced polycrystalline as the mainstream of the market. At the same time, due to the rapid introduction of PERC cell technology into mass production, the cost reduction advantage of monocrystalline technology has become more prominent, and monocrystalline PERC has accelerated to become the mainstream technology of the photovoltaic industry, leading the photovoltaic industry into the "PERC era". At the same time, China's PV has begun to get rid of foreign dependence and move towards independence and self-reliance.

Stage 4: Leading

2017: The market share of conventional cells began to decline, and China's PERC cell market share increased to 15%, and its production capacity has increased to 8.9GW. In the same year, Jinergy Technology became the first manufacturer in China to trial produce HJT batteries, and since then, more and more companies have begun to enter the pilot production stage.

2018: Chinese manufacturers began to actively deploy TOPCon technology, and JinkoSolar's N-type TOPCon cells prepared on large-area commercial silicon wafers reached a maximum efficiency of 24.19%. Trina Solar's IBC solar cell conversion efficiency developed by the State Key Laboratory of Photovoltaic Science and Technology reached 25.04%.

2019: The large-scale mass production of PERC cells accelerated, with a mass production efficiency of 22.3% and a production capacity of more than 50%, officially surpassing BSF cells to become the most mainstream photovoltaic cell technology.

2021: Yellow River Hydropower built China's first IBC cell mass production line with a capacity of 200MW and an average efficiency of more than 24%. In the same year, Aiko began to develop the BC technology route and created the ABC battery, which has a conversion efficiency of nearly 26.5%.

2022: LONGi Green Energy broke the five-year-old world record for silicon solar cell efficiency with a conversion efficiency of 26.81%, the first time that a Chinese solar technology company set the highest record for silicon solar cell efficiency to date.

2023: After years of in-depth research and judgment on various technical routes, LONGi Green Energy has identified BC battery technology as the main direction of future technical routes. Since then, more and more companies have announced the layout of BC batteries. The crystalline silicon-calcium-mortar tandem cell developed by LONGi Green Energy has been certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States, with a conversion efficiency of 33.9%, setting a new world record for the conversion efficiency of this cell technology. China's photovoltaic industry continues to maintain a good development trend, ranking first in the world in terms of installed capacity for 10 consecutive years, and ranking first in the world in terms of newly installed capacity for 8 consecutive years.

According to the statistics of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, from 2014 to 2022, Chinese enterprises and research institutions broke the world record 56 times in the efficiency of crystalline silicon cell laboratories; In 2022, the efficiency record was broken 14 times.


Tags:Longi , polysilicon