Friday, December 14, 2007

More solar stories from China

Nantong Qiangsheng Photovoltaic Technology Co Ltd (QS Solar) has launched a $400 million project to build three 25 MW amorphous silcion thin film production facilities in Nantong in northern Jiangsu province. QS Solar has intentions of an IPO in the U.S. sometime next year, joining the highly successful league of Chinese solar companies listed on U.S. stock markets. This piece speculates that QS solar is getting its supplies of production equipment from the likes of GT Solar or Applied Materials.

An industry observer predicts, however, that the sunny days of Chinese solar companies may cloud in the face of international foreign competition, as China's advantage of low labor costs slowly erodes. Chinese companies, whose products are predominantly exported out of China, need to seize the opportunities of tapping into its domestic market, although that would entail overcoming serious challenges in grid connection and pricing which Chinese policy makers are still grappling with as they try to implement the country's new renewable energy laws.

Finally, an uplifting rags-to-riches expose on China's Mr. Solar Water Heater--Huang Ming, founder of China Himin Solar Energy Group, the world's biggest producer of solar water heaters. The company had revenues of 2 billion yuan last year. Of the other 3,000 solar heating companies in China, only 10 earn 200 million yuan annually. More than 2 million sq m of Himin's heaters alone are installed on rooftops every year, nearly twice the total of Europe and North America. Huang Ming's solar dreams look set to expand as favorable government policies seek to expand the use of solar water heaters.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

China--the solar water heating capital of the world

My friends at China's Green Beat did a podcast (click image on right) on solar thermal heating last month. According to the self-dubbed "Green Brothers" of China's Green Beat, China has 40 million solar water heating systems covering 90 million square meters and accounting for two-thirds of the world's market share. The Chinese government intends to more than triple such surface area to 300 million square meters by 2020. The podcast takes a closer look at the city of Rizhao (日照)(which literally means "sunshine") in the northeast province of Shandong, the producer of 15% of China's solar water heating systems. According to Worldchanging, solar water heaters are currently installed in 99% of all buildings in Rizhao’s urban area, and in more than 30% of residences in rural areas.

Often mentioned in the same breath as Rizhao is the city of Kunming in the southern province of Yunnan, as this Worldwatch Institute story describes.

Solar water heating systems in Kunming, Yunnan.
Source: Worlwatch Institute