Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Solar Power 2007 and Chinese Solar

The Solar Power 2007 conference in Long Beach, California recently concluded. I wasn't there, but some people, like John Addison and Ed Gunther (Parts one, two, three and four).

A little bit about China...

Separately, this article discusses the China solar boom on the US stock market, observing that unlike that tech bubble, solar companies are able to ramp up production quickly, produce real products, and earn real profits. The article does a great job of summarizing the different specialties of the various U.S.-listed Chinese solar companies, however, perhaps inaccurately attributes this proliferation of Far Eastern solar enterprises to the enormity of China's environmental problems ("This [long list of U.S.-listed Chinese solar companies] is no coincidence. A mad rush to clean up the country before the Olympic games isn’t going to be enough to permanently squelch China’s pollution epidemic. If the country is going to get the problem under control it’s going to have to count on alternative energy technologies like solar power for contributions").

The fact is that the main markets of most of these Chinese companies are in the west, predominantly Europe, not its domestic market. Until the proper micro-incentives for renewable energy implementation (and proliferation) are set in place, such as solar tax credits and preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity, then only can Beijing's macro policy aspirations (such as their proposed renewable portfolio standard of generating 20% of their energy from renewable sources) be realized. Just imagine how great these Chinese solar companies will do if and when the domestic market gets going....Throw in you life savings into these companies now!!

The Chinese should get there...I am cautiously hopeful. They have to...the costs of environmental degradation to human welfare will start to take their toll. In Hong Kong where I am currently at, I've been noticing an increasing number of newspaper articles on climate change and clean energy, and high level central government officials pledging to get tough on greenhouse gases.

Then again, as a counterpoint, I've also seen a fair number of articles in the business section about large coal companies having successful public share offerings...against a backdrop of increased incidents of mining disasters.

Will the real China please stand up?