China to introduce solar leasing-style financing to open up distributed solar opportunities

China is looking to adopt a similar solar leasing model to that which has dominated the rooftop PV market in the US, in an effort to encourage more homes and businesses to install solar.

In Beijing on Thursday, China’s National Energy Administration released its policy to promote distributed solar generation – a key initiative for the country seeking cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives to coal and gas.

The policy will target growth in rooftop installations on home and businesses, and in ground mounted plants up to 20MW.

China’s current target for solar in 2014 is 13GW, but solar analysts like SolarBuzz, suggest China could top 100GW of solar by 2018.

The NEA policy document calls for all of China’s regions to focus on distributed generation, to reform and strengthen feed-in tariffs, provide further financial incentives, and fast track connections. It wants solar installed on public buildings including affordable housing, railway stations, motorway service area, airports, transportation hubs, major sports venues, parking lots, agricultural land, and more.

It wants solar PV on rooftops for all new construction where possible.

Most interestingly, it is looking at more innovative financing structures, such as loan guarantees, leasing models, and strategic partnerships between banks and PV installers – of the type that are being encouraged in Australia through the likes of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“This is likely the document that most Chinese solar companies have been waiting for,” noted Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah.

Shah said the document will likely be followed by other rulings to flesh out some policies, but shows that the government is “substantively supportive” for achieving ambitious distribution generation targets in China.

He also says that it could pave the way for business models such as that adopted by SolarCity to develop in China, providing a further driver for solar installation in the country.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson