China Tries to Fix Solar Panel Problems with Mergers, Reduced Gov. Support
December 24, 2012 8:11 AM
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Beijing's solar problems stem from rapid expansion over the past decade and issues with the U.S. and Europe
In response to troubles with its
solar panel manufacturing
, China is trying to get producers to merge.
Beijing, in particular, is facing problems with its solar panel industry and plans to fix it by reducing government support for the industry, encouraging mergers and blocking local leaders from supporting domestic producers.
Beijing's solar problems stem from rapid expansion over the past decade. It offered grants and low-cost loans, which led to many producers crowding the market. The end result was too many producers that flooded the market with supplies and were forced to lower prices in order to compete. The industry is now about $17.5 billion in debt.
Further complicating Beijing's solar issues is conflict with both the U.S. and Europe. Last month, a U.S. trade panel supported tariffs as high as 250 percent on imports of sola panels from China. This occurred after it was discovered that Beijing was subsidizing imports in an inappropriate way and affecting jobs abroad.
The European Union also started investigating complaints that China was subsidizing solar panel exports improperly and hurting both European producers and jobs.
Of course, China denied doing any of the above.
China has involved itself in many solar projects over the years, such as
to achieve 10 percent of its energy production from renewable resources by 2010, reaching 15 percent by 2020 through the use of wind, hydro, biomass and
China Energy Conservation and Environmental Group's (CECEP)
6.68 megawatt solar station
for cheap and efficient growing.
Solar panel companies haven't had an easy time in the U.S., either. Back in September 2011,
Silicon Valley-based solar panel company
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy
after receiving a $535 million government loan in 2009.
Reports stated that the White House pushed the loan ahead despite warnings about the viability of Solyndra in order to meet political deadlines
In October of this year,
, which is a Boston-based company that develops solar inverters, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a result of the poor state of the solar power industry as well as financial earnings
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RE: Solar Energy
12/27/2012 6:52:30 AM
Thanks for the link. Cool info. One thing people should notice is that even though panels can be bought less than $1.50/W, he paid $5.50/W for the complete installation. That's a big problem in the US, where the overhead over 3x as large as in Germany:
Even if solar installations eventually reach grid parity, though, there is cost that's unaccounted for: Every dollar saved is a dollar less going to centralized generators. This would be fine if solar power reduced our need to build other power plants, just like cheap LCDs reduced our need to build CRTs, smartphones reduced our need for MP3/CD/tape players, etc.
Unfortunately, energy is difficult to cheaply store, and solar doesn't generate much on cloudy days or at night.
We still need exactly the same fossil fuel capacity no matter how much solar is built.
Maybe 5 years from now, home solar power works out to 10c/kWh while grid power costs 13c/kWh, so individually it's smart to choose the former. However, after half the residents of a town switch to solar, grid power has to raise prices to 20c/kWh, and overall the town winds up paying more for energy.
Energy isn't like other goods. It needs centralized planning to be most efficient.
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