Solar Panels installed on the roof of the 2010 World Expo Theme Pavilion in Shanghai

By Qiong Xie

China’s energy regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), announced its first nationwide feed-in-tariff (FiT) for solar photovoltaic (PV) installation projects on July 24th, 2011, in an effort that it would boost its domestic solar industry and increase the share of solar power in China’s energy portfolio. The unveiling of the feed-in-tariff policy has shed light on China’s goal to achieve 50 gigawatt (GW) of solar installation by 2020.

Before the first nationwide FiT for solar PV projects was announced this past July, the Chinese government had sponsored two rounds of public tender since 2009. The first public tender in 2009 ended with a single solar project: a 10 megawatt (MW) installed capacity solar power plant in Dun Huang, Gansu province. The Dun Huang tender provides the solar developers with a payment of RMB1.09 (RMB is the abbreviation of Chinese currency, RMB1.09 is equal to approximately US $0.170, including tax) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for their solar power feed into the grid. Besides, China initiated its second round of public tender for concession solar power projects in 2010. At the end of this tender, 13 projects were announced with a total installed solar power capacity of 280 MW. To be more specific, it is reported that the winning bids ranged from RMB 0.728 per kWh (approximately $ 0.114, including tax) to RMB 0.991 (approximately $0.155, including tax). But the bid price was much lower than some of the solar industry participants expected as RMB 1.1 (approximately $ 0.172, including tax) thus it discouraged energy power companies and private solar equipment suppliers’ investment enthusiasm.

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12th Five-Year Plan, China, feed-in tariff, grid-access, NDRC, solar power, solar radiation, Township Electrification Program, wind energy

China's wind farms: Looking good and promising

By Haibing Ma and Lini Fu

In 2010, China overtook the United States as the global leader in installed wind power capacity, representing yet another triumph in the much-hyped clean tech race between the world’s two largest economies. Looking beyond the numbers, however, the true nature of China’s wind energy development appears far more bleak. 

According to the newest data released by the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA), by the end of 2010, China had installed a total of 41.8 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity, just ahead of the U.S. total of 40.2 GW. Even more impressive is the growth of China’s wind sector: while the United States added only about 5 GW of new capacity in 2010, China installed 16 GW. In 2009, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world leader in clean energy investment.

So why aren’t China’s top energy policymakers celebrating the recent wind capacity milestone, given the country’s unprecedented achievements in renewable energy development? Instead, in a January meeting, officials with the National Energy Administration (NEA) lamented the fact that China still trails the U.S. in the amount of wind power connected to the grid—with only an estimated 31.1 GW grid-tied by the end of 2010.

The reality is that a significant share of China’s installed wind capacity is not connected to any grid. This is wasting a significant amount of investment, not to mention energy. The positive side is that the central government is beginning to address this problem in a more rational way, which hints at a more sustainable approach to policymaking as well.

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China, clean tech race, GDP, green economy, grid connection, grid-access, installed capacity, renewable energy, transmission capacity, United States, wind power