Scholars tell Trump to copy China solar energy approach
Along China’s path of transforming from the world’s leading manufacturer to a proponent of solar technology and products, the United States might find it worthwhile to digest and learn from China’s approach to its visionary energy policy, its public-private technology partnership and commercialization of its technology and research.
In a report titled The New Solar System, which was funded by the US Department of Energy and released on March 21, scholars from Stanford University urged the US government to capitalize on China’s expertise in forging a “more economically sensible” path for America’s solar industry, and acknowledge China’s achievement in the sector.
In 2016, China produced 71 percent, (versus America’s 1.3 percent), of the world’s solar modules, said the report. By the end of 2015, China had deployed 43,500 MW in solar power, making it the world’s largest installed solar base.
According to Anders Hove, associate director of research at the Paulson Institute, China had 34 gigawatts (GW) of new solar power installed in 2016 alone, more than double what was added in the US.
Last December, China unveiled a five-year plan for the development of solar energy, which set a target of 110 GW solar capacity by 2020.
“Renewable energy, including solar, is essential for meeting China’s energy and climate goals and reducing reliance on high-emissions coal, which contributes to both air pollution and climate change,” said Hove.
Yang Yunhui, partner at Shanghai-based Yijin Captial, echoed the US researchers’ recommendations. “The central government has taken concrete efforts to push forward growth of China’s renewable, clean energy,” she said.
Concerned citizens in China became early adopters of residential solar panel installations. “They understand the need to get away from terrible pollution problems and invest in clean energy,” she said.
Chinese solar panel makers aren’t stopping within national boundaries; instead, they are expanding into overseas markets including the US. “They have the capital, they have the technology, they have the scale,” said Ocean Yuan, CEO of the Oregon-based solar panel manufacturer Grape Solar.
He accompanied a group of four visitors yesterday from Chengdu-based Tongwei Group, the world’s leading aquatic feed producer, on a tour of the Eugene technology center, which boasts a manufacturing base of approximately 917,261 square feet. “They are interested in purchasing the factories for future solar panel production,” he said.
In 2006, Tongwei’s founder Liu Hanyuan decided to switch part of the company’s business focus to solar technology and purchased a company that made chemicals for the production of polysilicon, the crystalline raw material used in making solar panels.
Last week, Yuan and his team flew into San Francisco to attend InterSolar North America, a three-day solar industry trade show.
“Can’t you see that Chinese enterprises make a strong presence?” said Yuan, calling Huawei’s presentation “too eyecatching to miss”.
Spearheading the PV inverter sector in China in 2011, Huawei not only became the domestic market leader but clinched a 45 percent international market share in 2015.