New Energy in Full Swing
Unlike the previous two energy revolutions, the rise of new energy enables China to become a major promoter of a third energy revolution.
Take a drive through the Beijing Economic-technological Development Area (BDA) and you’ll brush past countless modern buildings. With only a quick glance, one is able to veritably smell the sensation of technology. Tall windmills along the roads stand like strapping guards in the fields, transforming wind energy into electricity, and guarding a piece of Beijing’s blue sky. Solar panels line the roofs like an ocean of blue, harnessing the gift of the sun, and passing its warmth on to the people.
In recent years, a historic energy revolution has been taking shape worldwide. New forms of energy—primarily wind and solar power— have developed rapidly, offering a challenge to traditional forms of energy such as oil and coal. In 2015, the installed capacity of renewable energy generators exceeded that of conventional energy generators for the first time. A total of 173 countries have set their own goals for new energy development, and the proportion of new energy consumption within the total energy consumption continues to rise. The European Union plans to increase the proportion of its nonfossil energy consumption to 75 percent of its total energy consumption by 2050. Sweden and other countries have proposed to achieve 100 percent renewable energy-generated electricity by around 2040. The Chinese government has made clear that by 2030, non-fossil energy will account for 50 percent of its total electricity. Unlike the previous two energy revolutions, the rise of new energy in China enables China to become a major promoter of this third energy revolution.
Beijing Oriental Energy Technology Co.,
Ltd. (BOE Smart Energy) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd., which specialises in new energy business. Established in 2009, BOE Smart Energy is China’s first enterprise to engage in new energy services and solutions, committed to becoming a global leader in the energy-based Internet of Things (IOT). Against the background of supplyside energy reform, new modes of energy production and consumption are achieved through distributed energy, smart grids, and complementary energy forms.
“We have many new energy power plants, and most of them are photovoltaic power plants installed on roofs. Beijing’s first roof project ‘Golden Sun’ was built by us,” said Song Hangbin, general manager of BOE Smart Energy. Standing on the roof of the plant of the BOE Generation 8.5 TFT-LCD in BDA, Song pointed at the solar photovoltaic panels, calling them the BOE Generation 8.5 TFTLCD Factory Photovoltaic Power Generation Project. The photovoltaic power station occupies an area of 113,000 square metres on the roof, and it is the largest industrial plant roof demonstration project among China’s 13 photovoltaic power generation demonstration areas. The total installed capacity of the project is about 5,000 kilowatts (kw), with over 21,000 battery panels of 235 watts ( W) produced by Yingli. It can generate more than 6 million kilowatts-hour (kwh) of electricity every year, saving 1,900 tons of standard coal, and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide by about 5,800 tons, equivalent to planting 17 hectares of broad-leaved forest. The project represents not only BEO’S practice of “green manufacturing,” but also the efforts of Beijing municipal government to adjust its energy structure and develop renewable energy, playing an active role in promoting the application and popularisation of photovoltaic power generation.
China’s solar plants are built on barren hills not suitable for growing crops, on lowlying lakes not suitable for fish-farming, and on the roofs of buildings. Previously, new energy had nothing to do with Chinese farmers. But now, the government has supported some projects and helped farmers install solar energy equipment on their roofs. In Jiangsu, Zhejiang and other developed areas, people pay to install solar photovoltaic panels, and the government also provides them subsidies. Previously in northern China, farmers would burn coal for heat, but following “coal-toelectricity” energy reform, thermal insulation walls and solar water heaters have been installed. Today, hot water supplied by solar water heating systems is available in most rural areas of northern China.
In densely populated areas short on land resources, new energy is developed in a smallscale and distributed manner. In deserts, new energy is developed in a large-scale and intensive manner. In China’s natural conditions the latter mode prevails. In Gansu and Inner Mongolia, the average utilisation time of wind and electric power reaches over 3,000 hours per year, and the average annual photoelectric utilisation time reaches over 2,000 hours in Tibet and Qinghai— both are higher than those of the eastern and central areas (about 500–1,000 hours). Therefore, western areas are most suitable for building 10 million-kw new energy bases.
Aside from photovoltaic power projects, BOE Smart Energy also provides photovoltaic business, energy-saving services, smart microgrids, transaction business and a plant factory. It has more than 30 patents in the field of new energy, and invests in the research and development of electricity sale and distribution, energy storage, and carbon trading. Based on its photovoltaic power plants, BOE works to actively develop the energy Internet. The capacity of BOE Smart Energy’s photovoltaic power plants is expected to reach 4 gigawatts (gw) in 2020, and these photovoltaic power plants will provide a total of 110 billion kwh of clean electricity. Compared with coal-fired power plants, photovoltaic power plants have the advantages of saving standard coal, reducing air pollutant emissions (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide), saving energy, protecting the environment and generally benefiting society.
Song explained that China’s energy consumption per unit of GDP is presently far more than that of the US and Japan. Therefore, there is great potential in reducing energy consumption from the user side. He said, “We increased our production capacity by 20 times from 2010 to 2016, while the energy consumption increased by only six times, as we have made a lot of efforts to save energy. For example, after we applied new technologies in an old central air conditioner in the original factory, 1,000 kwh of electricity was saved.”
The tall windmill in BDA built by Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. is actually a set of 2.5-megawatt (MW) permanent magnet direct drive wind turbines. Goldwind is one of the pioneer enterprises engaging in
wind turbine development and manufacturing. After more than 10 years of development, it has become a leading solution provider for wind power. With high efficiency, low maintenance and operation costs, excellent grid connection performance, and high availability, the company’s 1.5- to 6.0-MW permanent magnet direct drive wind turbines have been patented, and represent the most promising technical route in the field of global wind power.
By the end of 2016, the cumulative installed capacity of Goldwind exceeded 38 gigawatts (GW), and its cumulative annual energy output reached 72 billion kwh, equivalent to saving 22.96 million tons of standard coal, reducing 73.9 million tons of carbon emissions, and creating 40.38 million cubic metres of forest. According to China Wind Energy Association, Goldwind ranks first for six consecutive years nationwide. According to the report of Bloomberg New Energy Finance on global wind turbine manufacturers’ market share, Goldwind ranked third in the world in 2016.
Goldwind began exploring smart microgrid, energy Internet and industrialisation as early as 2010. Currently, its microgrid products have been put into mass application, and have made breakthroughs in the US and Thailand markets. By the end of 2016, the company had built and operated over 10 microgrid projects all over the world, with excellent performances in grid connection and islanding, providing economic, environmentally-friendly and convenient energy solutions for local enterprises and development zones.
Built in August 2010, the Smart Energy Internet Project in the Renewable Energy Complementation Park is the first inverse power transmission microgrid demonstration project in Beijing, the first multiple energy storage application and technology platform in the world, the international IEC standard test base, and the first Mw-level isolated island operation demonstration project with distributed access of wind turbines.
In the Smart Microgrid Monitoring Room of Goldwind in Beijing, the director said that the smart microgrid of Goldwind Beijing Park contains about 1,250-kw photovoltaic power generation, 2,500-kw wind power generation, combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP) system composed of a 600kw mini gas turbine and two 65-kw micro gas turbines, lithium battery, vanadium flow battery, super capacitor and other energy storage systems. It provides electricity for Goldwind office building, workshop and big data centre. A 2,000-kw wind turbine will be built in the smart microgrid in the future. The deployment of this independently-developed energy management system will help build energy Internet systems, increase the proportion of clean energy in the park’s total energy consumption to 90 percent and more, and achieve flexible smart energy control over users. As a 1-MW supporting power project of the national 863 active distribution network, the project was named one of the “Capital Blue Sky Action Technology Demonstration Projects.”
Goldwind’s smart microgrid project demonstrates well the many functions of smart microgrids. The economic advantages of smart microgrids can be sensed in the first commercial project of Goldwind. Jiangsu Dafeng Wind Power Industrial Park’s Smart Microgrid Project is the first commercial 1MW-
level grid connection-type microgrid project nationwide, including a 2-MW wind turbine, a 100-kw small wind turbine and a 96-kw photovoltaic generator, with the energy storage device of 200 kw * 3 hours leadcarbon batteries, providing clean energy for a number of enterprises.
A monitoring system allows real-time electricity consumption information of the microgrid to be obtained. The generation capacity of this microgrid can satisfy 25 percent of the electricity consumption of Jiangsu CRRC, achieving self-use and surplus power transmission to the grid. Building smart microgrid for users can help them reduce energy costs, and provide ancillary services, such as improving the power supply in parks.
In 2016, Goldwind carried out a dozen smart microgrid projects at the same time, continued to explore more business models and application technologies—including a micro- combustion engine CCHP system in parks—provided cooling and heating services for parks, and continued to explore the various applications for their energy efficiency platform. Data collection and reduction provides data support for the best capacity design of microgrid. Backed by its advanced technologies and experience in the field of smart energy, Goldwind succeeds in providing solutions for the Smart City Project of Dafeng District, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, and the comprehensive energy efficiency projects of several domestic manufacturing enterprises. Sticking to the corporate mission of “contributing to a good ecology while saving more resources for the future,” Goldwind has always played an active role in exploring the fields of energy saving, environmental protection, new material and green technology, striving to become a world-leading overall solution provider of clean energy, energy saving and environmental protection.
At a smart photovoltaic greenhouse, a staff member of Goldwind Technology said, “China's agriculture is undergoing a third industrial transformation. Through the in-depth study of the status and future development of modern agriculture, we believe that refined smart agriculture will prevail. However, because of the long payback period of agricultural investment, agriculture is now constrained by a low intelligence level and high energy supply cost. To achieve the sustainable development of an agricultural economy, we combine new energy and agriculture to develop an eco-economy featuring ‘new energy plus smart agriculture,' and make new energy income the pre-capital guarantee of the agricultural industry. The area of our experimental greenhouse is about 0.27 hectares. Currently, another new energy and agriculture demonstration park is built in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province to transform part of our research results.”
There are tomatoes and leafy vegetables of different varieties in the greenhouse. The tomato planting area adopts an eco-friendly matrix and a water and fertiliser integration system, which makes it possible to fertilise plants according to their varieties, growth periods and individual needs. Orange-red photovoltaic panels are installed on the roof of the greenhouse, with a light transmittance of 19 percent. The panels are arranged according to the light requirement of the plants. Therefore, a small smart microgrid has taken shape in the greenhouse. The photovoltaic electricity is supplied for the greenhouse to use, while the surplus electricity is transmitted to the microgrid. At night or in the winter when the amount of photovoltaic electricity generation is not enough, the greenhouse can “take back” the photovoltaic electricity from the smart microgrid. In Beijing, photovoltaic electricity generation can meet the greenhouse's demands for electricity from March to October.
At this stage of changing from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture, China closely combines its agriculture, modern industry, emerging technology and information, and new energy. Green and lowcarbon wind power and photovoltaic power achieve harmony between nature and human beings, without the risk of resource depletion. Compared with coal, oil and natural gas, wind and solar energy is inexhaustible. Many new energy enterprises try to explore new models for combining new energy and agriculture, to promote plants growth and meet their own demands for energy.
BOE is also exploring a combination of new energy and agriculture. Song Hangbin said, “In the past, it took 30 days to grow seedlings in the soil, and then the seedlings would be transferred to natural light for cultivation. We've now put forward the concept of a plant factory where it just takes seven days to grow seedlings, and 30 days to make them ripe by suitable LED lighting.” He continued to say, “The original greenhouse could grow four rotations of vegetables per year, but now the plant factory can grow 10 to 12 rotations of vegetables per year. When this new planting technology is mature, the production capacity will increase, and so will the harvest of unit area. Our plant factory is located in Daxing District with an area of 4,500 square metres. It can achieve year-round production, and produce 80,000 vegetables monthly, five times more than that of traditional land. Presently, vegetables produced by the plant factory have been provided to several restaurants in Beijing.”