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.