(Bloomberg) -- China installed more solar panels in power plants than on rooftops last year for the first time since 2020 as President Xi Jinping’s push to build large-scale renewable facilities in inland deserts boosted growth. 

The country added 120 gigawatts of utility-scale solar projects, exceeding the 96.3 gigawatts of new distributed capacity, which are mainly on the rooftops of homes and office buildings, according to a National Energy Administration statement on Wednesday.  

Rooftop installations were the major force for China’s solar growth in 2021 and 2022 as the country ran out of land for utility-scale developments in more densely populated regions. However, large-scale solar projects outgrew distributed capacity last year after Xi’s ambitious plan for clean energy expansion lured developers to the country’s inland areas. 

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Solar installations surged to a record of about 216 gigawatts last year — more than all the panels installed in the US — thanks to falling module prices. New utility-scale capacity more than tripled in 2023 as developers rushed to meet the deadline for the first phase of Xi’s plan, while rooftop growth nearly doubled. 

The China Photovoltaic Industry Association expects the country to install as many as 220 gigawatts in 2024. 

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