In Solar energy market becomes unpredictable in Europe Hydrogen Fuel News wrote about the impact of the Chinese solar industry on European countries. The speed at which China can put photovoltaic (PV) solar modules on the market has led to the bankruptcy of several European companies who could not compete in their home markets. Now there is only one PV manufacturer among the world’s top ten that is not based in China: US-based First Solar. And despite the resolution of a solar trade dispute between Europe and China, China continues to make inroads in Europe.
China’s strong hold on the European market has created an unstable environment for domestic manufacturers, many of whom are likely to find significant challenges in deploying their own solar energy systems throughout the region.
To help ease the oversupply of Chinese solar PV systems, the Asian country intends to use more of these systems at home. Climate Spectator reported that China intends to increase its solar generating capacity fourfold by 2015. The State Council, the country’s cabinet and its top governing body. wants solar to generate 35 GW of electricity within 3 years. (This is the equivalent power of 35 nuclear power plants.) China’s solar PV manufacturing capacity, the world’s largest, is about 45 GW versus current global demand of 35 GW. Some analysts think the 35 GW target is not attainable because of lack of domestic subsidies and insufficient transmission and distribution infrastructure and lack of energy storage capability. These analysts think it is more likely the number will be 21 GW. See also CleanBiz Asia, Skepticism as China’s State Council signs off on new solar power target. In a related development, China is also banning new solar capacity that exacerbates the supply/demand situation in that country.
From Science Codex we learned that China’s manufacturing advantage in solar PV technology comes from more efficient production scale and not lower labour costs. A new report by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds China’s competitive advantage comes from economies of scale, preferred access to capital (indirect government subsidies), and resulting supply chain benefits. Currently Chinese manufacturers have a 23% cost advantage over US solar PV makers.
RT reported that Spain’s solar industry is about to collapse. Spain’s solar producers say they are edging toward bankruptcy because of their inability to repay credits after the recent government decision to cut subsidies to the industry. The country is one of the largest producers of solar energy countries in Europe, largely do to generous and unsustainable subsidies to the solar industry. In 2012 these subsidies reached 8.6 billion euro, nearly 1% of GDP. To address a growing electric power system deficit that now exceeds 25 billion euros, the government has reduced payments to renewable energy producers by up to 2.7 billion euro annually. The austerity also includes raising consumer electricity prices. Effective last month, electricity rates were increased 3.2% which will add about 400 million euros in extra revenue for the power system this year and 900 million euros next year. Now the solar companies, owing 30 billion euros to Spanish banks to fund their expansion, say they cannot replay the loans and many will face bankruptcy unless the government steps in to assist them.
Australia is also cutting its subsidy for solar power. From Climate Spectator we found that the state of Western Australia has cut its solar subsidy from 40 cents per kw/h to 30 cents per kw/h and this will reduced again to 20 cents per kw/h in July 2014 In total this is a 50% cut in the amount to be paid for solar generated electricity.
From Hydrogen Fuel News we learned that Japan now has 10 GW of installed solar PV capacity. This makes Japan only the fifth country in the world to reach this milestone. The other four are Italy, China, Germany, and the US. China is expected to soon pass Germany as the world’s largest solar electricity producer according to Global Times.
The South Pacific island of Tuvalu intends to be 100% powered by solar energy by 2020. Radio New Zealand said Tuvalu is following Tokelau as a country using only solar energy in place of diesel fuel to provide electricity.
OILPRICE wanted to know when will the clean energy future arrive.