China began to develop solar cells in the 1950s.
In 1958, the 18th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (referred to as Tianjin 18th Research Institute) and the Institute of Semiconductors of the Chinese Academy of Sciences established solar cell research projects. In 1960, Tianjin 18th Research Institute trial-produced a polysilicon solar cell, which was the first domestically produced solar cell with a conversion efficiency of 1%.
In 1962, the two units trial-produced P-type monocrystalline silicon cells with a conversion efficiency of 6% to 8%. In 1964, the two parties closely communicated and cooperated to increase the conversion efficiency to 12% to 13%.
In 1971, China’s second artificial satellite “Shijian No. 1” was equipped with a composite panel (with a conversion efficiency of 10%) of monocrystalline silicon solar cells developed and produced by the 18th Research Institute of Tianjin. It will be in service for 8 years. Inside, the solar cell power decay is less than 15%.
Since the 1970s, there have been Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Changning Battery Factory (later formed the 811 Shanghai Space Administration), Nankai University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Yunnan Normal University, Institute of Higher Education, Beijing Nonferrous Metals Research institutes such as the General Research Institute, as well as some battery factories across the country, have carried out solar cell research. The types involved mainly include crystalline silicon solar cells and amorphous silicon thin-film solar cells.
In 1987, the Sixth Research Institute of the Ministry of Electronics built China’s first wind-solar hybrid system with a capacity of 0.56kW in Zhufeng, Inner Mongolia. At the beginning of 1990, China’s first 10kW photovoltaic power station was built on the Tibetan Plateau.
In 1994, the Institute of Electrical Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences built many small household photovoltaic power generation systems and 100kW independent photovoltaic power plants.
At the end of 1999, the World Bank established the China Renewable Energy Commercialization Project (CREF), and China promptly established the National Development and Reform Commission, the World Bank Project Office and the China Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREA), which greatly promoted the development of China’s photovoltaic industry.
By the end of 2003, China became the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic consumer products such as courtyard lights. In October 2007, a 205kW solar concentrating photovoltaic demonstration power station was built in Inner Mongolia. In the same year, the megawatt-level photovoltaic power generation demonstration project on Chongming Island was officially connected to the grid for power generation.
In April 2009, China’s first large-scale solar photovoltaic high-voltage grid-connected power station (located in Xining Economic and Technological Development Zone) was completed to generate electricity.
In 2007, China’s solar cell output was about 1088Mw, accounting for 29% of the world’s total, ranking first in the world.
In 2010, China’s photovoltaic cell production was about 8000Mw, accounting for 50% of the global photovoltaic cell market, and it continued to rank first in the world. In terms of photovoltaic cell manufacturing technology, China has reached the world’s advanced level. The efficiency of photovoltaic cells has continued to improve. The efficiency of crystalline silicon modules has reached more than 15%, and the efficiency of amorphous silicon modules has exceeded 8%. The constraints of upstream materials such as polycrystalline silicon have been alleviated, and a complete photovoltaic power generation manufacturing industry chain has basically been formed.
The “Twelfth Five-Year Plan for Renewable Energy Development” issued by the National Energy Administration in 2012 pointed out that by 2015, the annual utilization of solar energy is equivalent to replacing fossil fuels with 500,000 standard coal. The installed capacity of solar power generation reached 21 million kW, of which the installed capacity of photovoltaic power station was 10 million kW, and the installed capacity of solar thermal power generation was 1 million kW. The installed capacity of grid-connected and off-grid distributed photovoltaic power generation systems reached 10 million kW. 400 million m². By 2020, the installed solar power generation capacity will reach 50 million kW, and the cumulative solar thermal utilization area will reach 800 million m².