Sunday, October 25, 2009

China’s Bright Solar Outlook

China’s new solar energy policy is very lofty proposing to increase its solar capacity from 50 megawatts in 2008 to 10 to 20 gigawatts in 2020. This increase would be about 20 or 40 times the solar capacity of the U.S. in 2008 (eia). This increase is to be accomplished through government subsidies for solar power plants and rooftop instillations. The program “Golden Sun” will subsidize 50% for on-grid plants, and 70% for off-grid power systems. This program should generate 500MW of power and lasts until 2011.

China’s solar policy should be good for many global companies and consumers. Companies such as First Solar, Solarfun, Canadian Solar Inc., and Trina Solar all have agreements to start building facilities. First Solar, which is an Arizona based company, has an agreement to build a 2GW plant in Ordos City, which should be one of the largest in the world. This would probably be like The Three Gorges Dam of solar plants a.k.a. huge! This 2GW plant will not even be completed until 2019. Solarfun, a Chinese company, also has a contract to build 2 plants that will total 600MW of power for the city of Hohhot. Canadian Solar Inc. has a contract to build a 500MW plant for the city of Baotau. Trina Solar also has plans to increase its plant by 500MW.

This is all being done by solar companies because of China’s availability of capital and lower prices of polysilicon, which is the raw material to make thin-film solar cells. This is all a play by China to make Solar power technologies economical for production. Solarfun and Trina Solar are good examples of this. Solarfun has taken out a 56.8 million dollar loan to increase its capital for its 600MW plants. Trina Solar has taken out a 304 million dollar loan to increase its capital to fund its expansion of 500MW.

These loans and expansions of power and solar technologies should come back to benefit the consumer. The increased use of capital should help start the flow of money again and help us out of our current recession. The increased renewable energy capacity will help China reach its desired solar energy capacity and supply power to more of its cities. This is also helpful for the U.S. in order to see how the production of these solar plants function economically and efficiently before we construct more of our own. Finally the most important thing is to see if China can meet more of its energy demands with more solar and less with its coal plants!

(The lithium part of the article, which I am not commenting on, but will be very important for the next generation of batteries for electric cars, and storage of large amounts of power from utility scale wind or solar plants.)


U.S. Electric Net Summer Capacity. EIA, 01 July 2009. Web. 25 Oct. 2009. .


Bartleby said...

That is an impressive goal that China is wanting to reach. It would be a great victory for developing alternative energies, the environment, and the consumers themselves. It would put a lot of political pressure on the United States to increase their own production of alternative energies, and would give the U.S. a successful model to learn from. Let's hope "Golden Sun" is a success.

Borja JR said...

Over the last ten years China has really advanced technologically, socially, demographically. All these changes have made them "have to" find energy from wherever they can find it. If you look at their energy resources, they are breaking every record in the book. In relatively no time, they are becoming world leaders in electricity generation, consumption,wind farm projects, solar energy projects...etc They really are becoming as powerful as anyone. The interesting part about this is the fact that they are not only looking at their local area. They are analyzing the best places in the world to obtain energy, whether it be wind,solar,nuclear..etc and finding ways of negotiating contracts with local agencies. Before we know it, the chinese will have some sort of installment in our backyard.
However not only the Chinese are seeking the american rays. The spanish company ABENGOA has signed an agreement with Arizona Public Service, the largest electric company in arizona, to build and operate what will be the largest solar power plant in the world. Location Gila Bend, near Phoenix. 280MW CSP trough plant with storage.According to Abengoa, they will prevent the emission of 400000tons of C02 by choosing their method of solar energy trapping. They will use a hot salt tank to store their energy, pretty much as Jared explained to us in class.

Meghan Croxton said...

The United States government has spoken about the developing countries’ need to cut back on emissions. What we don’t realize is that the United States went through the same maturing process and has contributed to a majority of the greenhouse gases today. China is a developing country, and even though every region should take precaution of pollutants, they should have no further rules holding them back from progression.
I think the energy policy China is proposing is a healthy strategy for the environment and should be admired and imitated by other countries. There is so much unused space on rooftops that could easily be turned into energy without any damage done to the environment and if China’s “Golden Sun” policy is a success, maybe others will imitate.