China to invest in solar power infrastructure

On Dec. 2 in Beijing the Chinese government declared a strategy of promoting solar photovoltaic power generation across the country through various demonstration projects, which coincides with the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico.

The initiative is sponsored by four departments: the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Energy Administration.

Thirteen development zones around the country have been recognized as the first demonstration projects for the solar power generation. Zhang Shaochun, vice minister of finance, said that the effect of the existing demonstration projects, which was put into operation in 2009 and 2010, would be further exploited so that the application would reach at least 1,000 megawatts annually since 2012. A stable solar power market will be in place and expand as a result.

Reuters reported on Friday that China’s central government is considering allocating 1.5 trillion yuan to support seven strategic industries, including alternative energy.

One of the 13 new projects for solar power generation will be located in Yizhuang, Beijing. With an investment of 460 million yuan, it will boast 20-megawatt installed capacity and be deployed on the roofs of buildings.

Statistics show that more than 700,000 square meters of roof in industrial zones for auto, equipment manufacturing, mobile communication, electronics and digital TVs in Yizhuang are available for the deployment.

It is estimated that the power generation can reach 22.72 million kilowatt-hours annually once in operation. That will amount to 568 million kilowatt-hours for 25 years. The pressure of the grid at peak hours for industrial production can be eased effectively as a result.

More importantly, it is significant in terms of environmental protection. The use of solar energy can save 8,200 tons of coal equivalent and reduce emission of industrial dust, CO2 and sulfur dioxide by 123 tons, 21,430 tons and 180 tons, respectively.

China’s solar power has been developing rapidly in recent years. With the progress in technology, industrial system, market potential and policy framework, the industry is ready for the launch of a full-fledged application. In addition, the industry has entered into a new stage of scale economy globally.

The Chinese government will give more support to the demonstration projects. A 50 percent subsidy will be granted to suppliers of key equipment who win the bidding. An additional subsidy of 4 yuan per watt and 6 yuan per watt will be given depending on different projects.

The next step is to connect those areas with demonstration projects. It is necessary to explore an effective business model for the industry. More demonstration projects are in line with development or industrial parks as the main focus. The aim is to install the solar power system at all the plants in those parks.

The State Grid will streamline the power connection process and improve its tech standards and management.

A new mechanism integrating the fiscal support and R&D (research and development) efforts will be in launched soon. It is expected to encourage the application of new products and technologies by enterprises to bring costs down so that the promotion of the Solar-PV power generation could be made easier and faster in the future.