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Apple continues solar trend in China

Apple Pushes Hard on Solar in China with 40 MW of New Solar Farms

Apple continues solar trend in ChinaApple continues to walk the walk when it comes to solarization. Now it’s making a big splash on solar in China in partnership with SunPower.

Both are teaming up to build two 20-megawatt solar projects in China’s Sichuan province — which is a first, although together they’ve built six in America totaling 90 megawatts. Construction is already underway and feeding 2 megawatts back to the grid, but should be finished by the end of 2015.

It’s the latest in a line of joint ventures and manufacturing facilities SunPower has set for China, which itself happens to Earth’s largest renewable energy investor. Did I mention that Apple is also Earth’s largest company by market value? Bloomberg certainly did, when reporting the promising deal. So should we all.

In my corporate solar report card and analysis, Apple emerged a clear leader among the mammoth multinationals walking (or merely talking) the solarization walk. And that was after it gave First Solar $850 million to build solar farms in the so-called homeland. The international dimension of this subsequent team-up with America’s second-largest solar manufacturer makes Apple an international solarizer worth taking as seriously as China itself, which last year led the world in solar installations.

“This is a tremendous groundbreaking collaboration, bringing together a diverse group of experienced partners from different parts of the globe to build renewable solar energy ventures that contribute to the local economy and the environment,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner said in SunPower’s announcement. “These projects will provide clean, renewable energy, help address climate change, and continue to provide agricultural benefits to the local farmers, while protecting the area’s precious land. We continue to value our partnership with Apple and commend them for their global environmental commitment.”

It’s a commitment to solarization that should be emulated by everyone, unlike the polarization that characterizes America’s sad solar war with China. As oil continues to decouple from the U.S. economy, which is adding solar jobs at 10 times the national average, these international agreements for the future good should become less rare. Evidently, we can all just get along.

 

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Solar Power in Space

China wants to build a massive solar power station in space

Solar Power in SpaceMoving away from fossil fuels and towards green energy generation is becoming increasingly important, not just because fossil fuels will eventually run out, but the emissions they produce are choking the atmosphere. That’s why we are seeing huge solar farms being built, but China is considering a much more ambitious project. Chinese scientists want to construct a massive solar power station in space.

By massive I mean the largest man-made construction ever in space. The station when finished would see 6 square kilometers of solar panels orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 36,000km. It’s so large in fact, that from the Earth’s surface it would apparently look like a star in the sky.

 

 

Chinese solar boom

China’s New Solar Target Could Set the Stage for a Solar Boom

Chinese solar boomThe solar industry is growing around the world, but China is taking growth to another level. It recently set the most aggressive goal of any country by targeting 17.8 GW of solar installations in 2015. That’s 19% higher than the proposed 15 GW goal, and 70% higher than the 10.5 GW installed in 2014.

Considering that around 46 GW of solar energy capacity was installed in 2014, China is leading the market in both market share and absolute growth. What’s incredible is how good this could be for investors in solar companies.

Just how big is China’s goal?
To put China’s goal into some perspective, here is how 17.8 GW stacks up in the solar industry.

  • 17.8 GW of solar energy would power 2.9 million U.S. households, or about 2.5% of the homes in the U.S.
  • If built as a utility-scale power plant, 17.8 GW of solar energy would cover about 107,000 acres, or 167 square miles.
  • Next year alone, China could approach the grand total of 18.3 GW of solar ever installed in the U.S.
chinese solar supply

IHS: Most Chinese tier-1 PV module suppliers sold out until second quarter of 2015

chinese solar supplyMost Chinese tier-1 solar PV module suppliers have sold out until the second quarter of 2015, according to the latest analysis from IHS. Along with the consolidation of the PV module industry, these suppliers increased their market share from 34 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 45 percent in the fourth quarter. 

IHS forecasts these companies will maintain their combined market share in the first quarter of 2015. Representing 35 percent of global module capacity, the total effective capacity of Chinese tier-1 module suppliers in the first quarter is expected to reach 5.7 GW, while total global demand is expected to reach 10.8 GW.

“We have heard from both suppliers and buyers about the expected shortage of Chinese tier-1 modules in the first quarter,” said Jessica Jin, analyst for solar at IHS. “After a demand surge in the fourth quarter of 2014, Chinese tier-1 module suppliers decreased their inventory significantly. Considering the Chinese New Year occurs in the first quarter, companies won’t run their capacity in full production, either; so they won’t have enough products for all quotations. Most of them have already sold out for the first quarter.”

 

China solar outlook 2015

China Solar: Get Ready For A Hot 2015, HSBC Ups Outlook

China solar outlook 2015HSBC issued a bullish report on China’s solar industry this morning, saying that Beijing is now dead serious about controlling pollution. The bank upgraded its China solar demand outlook from 12GW to 15GW for 2015, and from 14GW to 16GW for 2016.

China is already the world’s largest market for solar. Beijing has set an ambitious goal 100GW of installed solar copacities by 2020.

China’s need to diversify away from its dependence on coal, which still makes up around two-thirds of of the energy mix, is well understood. We are all choking in foul air here! Sitting in Hong Kong, this blogger now has a lingering allergy-induced cough.

The more important question is implementation. Last year, Beijing insisted that the industry switch from the giant desert solar farms, or the utility scale generations, to smaller seaboard rooftops, or distributed systems. But the industry was not ready. As a result, in 2014, China likely have installed only 10.5GW solar systems, smaller than 2013′s 12GW.

China’s Solar Power Push

sun_630x420As the world’s largest emitter of carbon, China has decided that one of the best ways to clean up its polluted air is through solar power. The country has led the world in solar installations for the last two years and will likely do so again in 2015. It’s on pace to reach 33 gigawatts of solar power capacity by the end of 2014, 42 times more than it had in 2010 and more than exists in Spain, Italy, and the U.K. combined, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (The U.S. will have 20 gigawatts by the end of this year.)

Most of China’s solar power comes from sprawling utility-scale solar farms in the country’s rural west. Now the idea is to distribute solar panels in urban areas, putting them on top of office buildings and factories and connecting them to the grid without building miles of costly transmission lines.

China coal tariffs could impact Australia solar industry

Will Chinese tariffs on Australia's coal exports trigger tit-for-tat action that impacts solar?
Will Chinese tariffs on Australia’s coal exports trigger tit-for-tat action that impacts solar?

The surprise decision by China to impose tariffs on coal imports from Australia has raised the prospect of tit-for-tat action that could impact on the multi-billion solar industry in Australia.

The decision to impose – at least temporarily – a tariff of up to 6% on imports into China is yet another blow on Australian thermal coal in particular, which is suffering from reduced demand and plunging prices. Few Australian thermal coal mines are making profits.

But the decision could rebound on the Australian solar market. The Australian government is currently considering an anti-dumping case against imports of China solar modules brought by Adelaide-based Tindo Solar.

Any ruling against cheap Chinese solar modules imported into Australia could have been potentially difficult, considering Australia’s push for a free trade agreement.

But it could now become a bargaining chip in the spat of import duties on coal. The politics of any anti-dumping ruling on Chinese solar modules has just shifted dramatically.

Tit-for-tat
The anti-dumping case was brought by Tindo Solar, a small module assembly company in Adelaide with a high-tech plant and a dozen employees, earlier this year.

Tindo is Australia’s last remaining manufacturer of modules (using imported cells and other equipment). It argued that solar modules were being dumped in Australia below the cost of manufacture.

“Here at Tindo, we are passionate about creating new and innovative manufacturing jobs in this country and we are supportive of any initiative that embeds a fair go and a fair market place for Australian manufacturers” Tindo’s Richard Inwood, said at the time.

“We hope the investigation here will help achieve a level playing field in the market.”

But Tindo’s move has gotten no support in the remainder of the industry, which relies almost exclusively on renewable (installations of around 800MW versus Tindo’s current capacity of less than 10MW). While some acknowledged an issue with the imports of poor quality panels at the cheaper end, the major manufacturers reject any notion of dumping in the Australian market.

They fear that any ruling will have an impact across the board. Developers of large-scale solar projects – and there are many in the pipeline – say that any tariff would remove the small margins on project finance.

The industry says that import duties would raise the cost of solar PV modules, reduce sales, cause significant job losses and be only partly offset by an increase in solar module manufacturing jobs. “It is one more layer of uncertainty that none of us need,” said Douglas Smith, the head of Trina Australia at a conference in July. “Don’t underestimate the lengths that opponents (of the solar industry) will go to.”

Focused investigation
The industry has tried to reduce the focus of the investigation into smaller 60-cell modules mostly used on rooftop installations, and not the larger 72-cell modules being imported for large-scale projects. FRV, which built the largest solar farm to date in the SCT, and is soon to begin construction on a 56MW project in Moree, also argued the same point.

“The utility scale solar market in Australia is still in its infancy and we believe the introduction of any tariff will have a considerable detrimental effect on the development of the industry,” wrote Infigen Energy in its submission.

However, the anti-dumping commissions is believed to have rejected those entreaties and its probe remains broad. The impact of a tariff on rooftop modules could be significant – or perhaps not as great as the removal of the renewable energy target – and there are fears it could be used as a political weapon by the government.

While the anti-dumping commission will largely look at economic factors, the broader political implications will be decided by Bob Baldwin, the parliamentary secretary assisting the Industry Minister, and Cabinet.

The anti-dumping ruling is expected soon, possibly within a week or two, with the government to hand down its decision a month later. Baldwin indicated in July that the government would take any such decisions “to the edge” of World Trade Organisation rules.

Asked to explain what this meant, Baldwin said recently: “In general, there is a submission for cabinet to enhance and strengthen … to take anti-dumping rules to the edge of what the World Trade Organisation allows … to make sure that our industries compete on a level playing field.”

Leveling the playing field
The issue has also been raised by independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who told RenewEconomy on Thursday: “Panels are coming in from China and are breaching, I think, WTO rules. Europe and the US have slapped tariffs on them and we haven’t. (These cheap imports) are killing Tindo and they could employ hundreds of more people and ramp up production. We could have new manufacturers coming into the market place.”

Xenophon also said it was an issue around quality. And if cheap panels were stopped, it would give the likes of Tindo to increase production and reduce unit costs.

There are also fears that the government could use the anti-dumping findings to put pressure on the solar industry, particularly if it is forced to back-track on plans to halt, or reduce, the renewable energy target. The small-scale solar market now looks relatively safe from policy changes, but the fossil fuel industry is still anxious that its rapid growth be curtailed by the removal of remaining subsidies.

Greens Senator Christine Milne in July warned that the government could use the anti-dumping rules to continue its campaign against solar. “Anything that makes solar more expensive than coal will be supported by the government. They could have come out in support of manufacturing but they had zero interest with SPC Ardmona and the car industry. It would be ironic if they suddenly took an interest in manufacturing now.”

The investigation is looking into four importers – Trina, ET Solar, Renesolar, and Suntech – but is believed to have only inspected one of these importers. However, any findings could impact the whole industry. The commission could recommend variable tariffs against modules, and they could be retrospective.

A statement of essential facts – which would give an indication of their assessment – was to have been released in early September, but has been delayed until November, and could be delayed further. A decision by government will be pushed into next year, by which time the coal tariff agreement could have been resolved, and a free trade agreement signed as well. The solar industry will be hoping so.

Solar Installations to Rise 20 Percent in 2014

clean-energy-collectiveGlobal photovoltaic (PV) solar installations will rise to 45.4 gigawatts (GW) in 2014, with 32 percent of this total, or 14.4 GW, coming in the fourth quarter, according to IHS Technology.

Although IHS has trimmed its forecast for 2014 by 1.5 GW due to weaker-than-predicted performance in several key markets, a 20 percent increase is still forecast in installations from 37.8 GW in 2013.

Driven by strong demand in China and the United States, the final quarter of the year will again be the largest in terms of new installations. A total of 32 percent of annual installations will occur during the fourth quarter, as presented in the attached figure. IHS predicts that these two countries alone will account for more than half of all global demand in the final quarter of 2014.

“Following a first half that saw declines in several key countries, the global PV solar market is undergoing a major acceleration in the final quarter of the year,” said Ash Sharma, senior director of solar research at IHS.

“China and the United States will propel global growth. With China installing more than 5 GW and the United States installing 2.3 GW in the fourth quarter of 2014, these two countries will account for more than 50 percent of global installations during this period. The huge final quarter in China is expected to be only slightly higher than what was achieved in the same quarter of 2013-a figure that surprised many in the industry.”

Information in the release is derived from the Q3 2014 PV Demand Market Tracker from the Solar service at IHS.

A tale of two halves for solar
Several countries achieved strong installations in the first half of the year, including the United Kingdom and Japan. However, there were also declines in Europe and in countries that typically undertake more installations toward the end of the year. This set the stage for a major rebound in installations during the second half of the year.

However, Germany and Italy will see another year of market decline with only 2.1 GW and 0.8 GW of new installations in 2014, respectively, down from 3.3 GW and 1.7 GW in 2013.

Second-half rebound for China and US
Throughout 2014, IHS has expressed doubts over China’s capability to meet the ambitious targets the government set for distributed PV (DPV) in 2014. After a recent adjustment from its government, the country’s overall target of 13 GW is now in line with the IHS forecast.

However, IHS predicts that ground-mount PV will still dominate the market this year and account for 8.5 GW of installations. DPV is struggling to overcome barriers, including the lack of suitable rooftops and difficulties in obtaining financing.

Installations in the U.S. are forecast to follow a similar seasonal pattern in the final quarter. Installations have been ramping up throughout the year, and IHS predicts that 33 percent of U.S. installations in 2014 will be completed in the fourth quarter.

UK to become fourth largest PV market in 2014
Among the leading photovoltaic markets in 2014, the United Kingdom is experiencing the strongest percentage growth by far.

The country saw a huge boom in utility-scale installations in the first quarter as developers took advantage of the attractive renewable obligation certificates (ROC) scheme, which offered 1.4 ROC per megawatt-hour (MWh).

The U.K’s massive growth in 2014 is in part an unintended consequence of the government’s review and subsequent closure of the ROC scheme to PV projects above 5 MW in size.

The resulting rush to beat the March 2015 deadline of the expiration of the scheme will lead to 3.1 GW of PV installations being completed in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015. IHS predicts that a significant portion of this will be completed in 2014 to avoid the bottleneck and delays in connections that were seen during an equivalent rush in February and March of this year.

In total, IHS forecasts 3.0 to 3.2 GW of new installations in 2014, making the United Kingdom the fourth largest market this year after China, Japan and the United States. IHS predicts that following a strong first quarter in 2015, in which more than 65 percent of annual installations in the U.K. will take place, utility-scale installations will fall, leaving residential and commercial rooftops as the main sectors.

Market growth to slow down in 2015, but to remain solid
Annual growth of global PV installations in 2013 and 2014 will be more than 20 percent as established markets have expanded rapidly. However, IHS is forecasting increases to slow to 16 percent with 53 GW of new capacity being installed.

China’s market more than doubled in 2013 and is projected to grow by 30 percent in 2014. Unless new policy or targets are raised further, IHS predicts China’s annual growth to slow to 10 percent in 2015-but still sufficient for the country to remain the largest end market globally.

Meanwhile, installations in Japan are expected to peak in 2014 at 9.1 GW, before slightly declining in 2015 as land availability, grid connection issues and an upcoming feed-in tariff review take their toll on demand.

Emerging regional hot spots across the globe represent huge opportunities for growth, and IHS predicts such markets will steadily increase their share. However, development in these regions should not be overestimated, as policies are slow to be implemented and governments are keen to avoid the boom-bust scenarios seen in other markets.

Will Chinese Pollution Ever be Under Control?

The recent bad weather we experienced over the winter has been blamed on everything from changing North Atlantic currents to the government’s support over same sex marriage. Whatever the reasons, it does seem clear that our weather patterns are changing, not just here but across the planet. These changes could have significant effects in the future, and many people are pointing to the greenhouse gases and pollution released in China as one of the major culprits of climate change. But does pollution from so far away affect the rest of us?

EMISSIONS

Until about 2000, emissions of carbon dioxide, the major culprit in global warming, stood at around 3,000 million metric tonnes in China. By 2009 that had more than doubled to almost 8,000 million tonnes, and China alone now produces 26% of the world’s CO2, almost as much as the USA and all of the European Union countries combined. As a comparison, the UK produces less than 500 thousand metric tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and this is only 1.5% of the world’s emissions.

woman wearing a mask uses her mobile phone

A woman using her mobile in the smog, in Harbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

TACKLING POLLUTION

Here in Western Europe we take climate change very seriously and have done for decades. We all recycle what we can, have got used to trying to reduce what we consume and big business has drastically cleaned up its act too, with experts pointing to success stories such as the river Thames supporting more wildlife than it has for the past 200 years. However there are no such controls in China, which as a nation has been more focused on economic growth and enabling its factories to compete with those in the West rather than controlling their activities and making sure that they do not pollute the environment. The major international agreement on pollution control is known as the Kyoto Protocol which was signed in 1997. In this treaty, countries are bound to make certain changes based on their economic status at the time. Western European countries, agreed to stick to pollution control targets, whereas nations classed as “developing”, including China, were given non-binding targets for tackling pollution. There is a school of thought that as Chinese industry has moved on so much since 1997, this treaty should be re-drafted.

Man pushes bike in smog

A man bushes his bicycle up stairs during heavy smog in Harbin, China. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

SMOG

One of the most visible signs of the level of pollution in China is the blanket of smog which regularly engulfs Beijing. The smog causes huge health problems for residents and visitors to the city, and once the smog dissipates, it goes into the upper atmosphere and contributes to global warming and the reduction in the ozone layer. It’s not just a Chinese problem, and many feel that unless something is done to bring Chinese pollution controls up to Western European standards, the result will be more extreme weather conditions across the planet.

Chinese Pollution from Space

This terrifying satellite image depicts smog stretching 750 miles from Beijing (top centre) to Shanghai (bottom right) Source: Daily Mail

WEATHER PATTERNS

It’s not fully understood how pollution created in China, India or other developing parts of Asia impact on the weather for the rest of the planet. Research is ongoing, but computer modelling studies seem to indicate that high levels of pollution in Asia cause stronger storms to sweep eastwards across the Pacific into the United States and eventually on to us here in Europe. Along with the stronger winds, more rain is predicted, with experts modelling around 7% more rain when levels of pollution are high.

The Future of China?

Is this the future for China? Source: L17 Designs

FUTURE

There is no sign of the Chinese taking huge steps to reduce their pollution levels. Small steps focussing on individuals have been taken, such as stopping stores from giving out free plastic bags but the big issues such as emissions from factories, dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and water pollution into the country’s rivers remain untackled. 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China, but at a time where the country is experiencing rapid growth and personal wealth at levels never seen before, there is just not the appetite from the ordinary Chinese to do anything about pollution. China is slowly opening up to the West and allowing more Western influences into the country, but until this process gathers pace and there is real willing from the Chinese politicians to tackle pollution, we can perhaps expect more extreme weather on the other side of the world.

Source of Images: Huffington Post | Daily Mail | Commons.Wikimedia and L17 Designs

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

China Raises Solar Target (AGAIN)

china-flag-red

Everything China does it outsized, including the 12 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity it added last year, bringing the cumulative total to 20 GW.

Now, the government is raising the target once again, this time to 70 GW of solar by 2017, which would more than triple capacity in just three years.

“The new solar target set for 2017 will be easily attained if China keeps the current development pace,” says Wang Xiaoting from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“PV is becoming ever cheaper and simpler to install, and China’s government has been as surprised as European governments by how quickly it can be deployed in response to incentives,” notes Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China’s state-owned power companies are now the world’s biggest owners of solar assets, she says.

But as Chinese solar companies – those that are left – recover from the surplus that rocked the industry, many of them are developing their own projects as a way to absorb excess manufacturing and increase margins. One of the recent government reforms has been to make bank financing easy for clean energy projects.

Trina Solar, for example, China’s second-largest manufacturer, starts building a 1 GW solar plant this year in a far-west desert, along with a nearby factory that supplies the plant. 300 MW comes online this year, with the project finished by 2018. The electricity won’t be transmitted to big cities, it will be consumed by the 570,000 people that live in the area.

Solar Trina 1 GW

In terms of wind, China is expected to add 14.7 GW this year, a bit more than the 14 GW in 2013, and over 110 GW of projects are moving forward.

Other targets stay the same for 2017: 150 GW of wind; 11 GW of biomass power; 330 GW of hydro power; 50 GW of nuclear.

If all this comes to pass, 13% of China’s electricity will come from non-fossil sources, 15% of that from wind (up from 2% in 2012), reports Bloomberg

Even so, fossil fuels reign, as the government institutes subsidies to get a shale gas industry going. And it will move fast, from 200 million cubic meters last year to a targeted 6.5 billion cubic meters by 2015. It also has big plans for coal to methane plants, which have much higher emissions that coal plants.

And while there are lots of new coal plants also being built, many are more efficient replacements for shuttered old ones.

So, what’s the conclusion? Renewable energy is growing faster in China than anywhere in the world, but even as its use of coal slows (which it already is), its massive energy footprint will require coal for decades to come.

Original Article on SustainableBusiness

Volkswagen Makes Electric Car Push in China

volkswagen-china

According to Volkswagen CEO Prof. Dr. Winterkorn, the company will be “launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history.”

The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s electric up! and e-Golfmodels.

While the Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid is already in the showrooms in China, the Group will be launching two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE. Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

“All these vehicles are highly efficient and eco-friendly. And at the same time they offer lots of driving pleasure. That is exactly what people all over the world and here in China expect of the Volkswagen Group. Thanks to the modular strategy, which is also being implemented at our Chinese factories, we can electrify nearly every model in our range: From small cars to large sedans, from pure electric drives to plug-in hybrids,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft.

According to the company’s press-release, two joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen are investing more than ever before in new vehicles and drives, green technologies and resource-efficient plants. €18.2 billion ($25.15 billion) will be invested up to 2018. As Winterkorn commented: “Our team of over 2,700 engineers in China and our partners are working together on pioneering technologies, and we are banking on China’s innovative power.”

Winterkorn also said that “China is the Volkswagen Group’s largest single market and plays a key role in our Strategy 2018. For 2014, we have once again set our sights on double-digit growth in China and are aiming to deliver over 3.5 million vehicles to customers for the first time in a calendar year.”

Original Article on The Daily Fusion

The Donald Trump of China Invests in Solar Companies

鄭建明-142844_copy1

After several tough years for the solar industry, when numerous companies either held massive debt (in China) or closed their doors (US/Europe), the industry is on the upswing again, and a Hong Kong entrepreneur is taking advantage of that.

Zheng Jianming, a real-estate tycoon based in Hong Kong, is quietly buying stakes in Chinese solar companies at fire sale prices, potentially piecing together one enormous company that would manufacture in China, reportsBloomberg.

So far, he’s committed $533 million for companies worth $20 billion at their peak: 21.6% of LDK Solar which, at its height was the world’s second largest solar cell maker, and 30% of Shunfeng, which is in the process of trying to buy Suntech, formerly the world’s largest solar manufacturer. Shareholders vote next week on the Suntech sale.

Both LDK and Suntech are in the process of liquidating. The NY Stock Exchange is delisting LDK, following the same action on Suntech months ago.

Merging Suntech with stakes in LDK and Shunfeng “represents one of the largest, if not the largest amount of solar module manufacturing capacity” controlled by an individual, Dexter Gauntlett, Senior Energy Research Analyst for Navigant, told Bloomberg. “I don’t want to say it’s unprecedented, but it’s definitely not the norm to take such a wide holding in three different companies.”

Combining the three companies would create a vertically integrated mammoth that both makes solar panels and develops solar farms. While there currently aren’t plans to merge them, they are beginning to behave like sister companies, LDK’s Chief Financial Officer told Bloomberg.

Read the full story:

Website: www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-31/hong-kong-property-tycoon-makes-533-million-bet-on-solar.html

Original Article on  SustainableBusiness

Tesla’s Chinese Eco-mark Lawsuit

tesla-car

previous post reported on Tesla’s Chinese trademark problem.  Apparently, a businessman named Zhan Baosheng had registered the TESLA (or “Te Si La” transliterated) trademark in China, blocking  the American automaker from using the mark there.

Mr. Zhan was also operating a web site using the Tesla China domain (www.teslamotors.com.cn), and operating a Tesla-branded account on the Chinese microblog site Sina Weibo.

As part of a recent press release announcing its plan for growth in China the company said it resolved the trademark issue.  More particularly, Tesla obtained a court decision granting it the right to use the TESLA mark in China (see the story here on Green Car Reports and covered by Clean Technica here).

Veronica Wu, Tesla’s vice president for China operations, said the company had won this right without the need to pay Mr. Zhan (who had apparently hinted that he would sell the trademark for millions of dollars).  According to Wu, “we went to court and won.”

Though technically Zhan may have been the first user of the TESLA mark in China, the court decision seems right because his apparent high asking price for the mark signals bad faith on his part and that his use may not have been bona fide.

This decision bodes well for American and other non-Chinese companies who may need to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights against local competitors in China.

The highest profile clean tech IP dispute in China is the trade secrets and copyright case between American Superconductor and Chinese turbine manufacturer Sinovel, which made it all the way to, and is (as far as I know) still pending in, the Chinese Supreme Court.

Original Article on Green Patent Blog

In Focus: The US-China Solar Trade Dispute

us-china

In case you missed it, the International Trade Commission (ITC) has agreed to consider adding (more) restrictive tariffs to imported Chinese solar panels. Why this is happening, who’s behind the dispute, and what will happen to solar panel prices and installation costs if the suit moves forward are complicated questions—but important ones for both installers and consumers.

With that in mind, here’s a basic rundown of all you need to know about the most recent Chinese-US Solar Trade Case and how it might affect installers and consumers.

How the U.S.-China Solar Trade Got Started

SolarWorld-China-Trade Case

Photo Credit: Flickr/FPat Murray

It all started in October 2011 when SolarWorld—a German company that also manufactures panels in the U.S.— filed an unfair trade complaint with the ITC. The U.S. division of SolarWorld claimed that China was unfairly subsidizing its solar panel companies, enabling Chinese companies to dump solar panels on the U.S. market at below cost prices, thus forcing SolarWorld to drop its prices and shut down U.S. factories.

Although SolarWorld lost U.S. manufacturing jobs, many U.S. solar installers opposed SolarWorld’s action, arguing that inexpensive solar panels helped to lower installation costs and spur growth, creating even more U.S. installation jobs.

Nevertheless, SolarWorld won their case in 2012, and the ITC imposed 31% tariffs on imported Chinese solar cells, the main component that makes up a solar panel. As a result, many small Chinese solar companies dropped out of the U.S. market, but the big solar players, such as Yingli Solar and Trina Solar found a loophole.

How the Trade Dispute is Continuing Today

Due to the 31% tariff on just solar cells, the Chinese companies began to manufacture cells in other countries, mainly Taiwan. They then imported the cells back to China where they were assembled into solar panels for export, technically avoiding the tariff causing a 31% increase in their solar panel prices.

However, SolarWorld saw the loophole and recently filed another complaint with the ITC, claiming that the Chinese were still dumping and subsidizing below-cost Chinese solar panels on the U.S. market by using Taiwan-based solar cells.  A decision on the case has yet to be made, but is expected by early summer.

Who’s Currently Affected by the Solar Trade Dispute?

If you’re an installer, DIY solar enthusiast, or a consumer, the trade dispute probably hasn’t affected you at all—so far—thanks to the Taiwan work-around. Solar panel prices have stayed at about the same level since the first tariff decision. In fact, prices have come down 60% since 2011, and they slowly continue to fall.

On the other hand, if you’re an American manufacturer of polysilicon, the raw material for solar cells, you’re out of luck. Since the first ITC decision, China has retaliated with a 60.2% to 63.5% anti-dumping tariff on polysilicon imported to China, making Chinese manufacturers import polysilicon from other countries and from their domestic sources.

For workers in the US solar manufacturing industry, solar manufacturing companies continue to fold. However, 80% of the U.S. solar industry’s 140,000 jobs are related to solar sales and installation. Overall, solar jobs increased by 20% since last year.

Still, SEIA, the U.S. solar industry’s trade organization opposes any tariff. They believe that much of the solar industry’s growth will come to an abrupt halt if SolarWorld is successful with its latest complaint.

Furthermore, CASE, a coalition of U.S. solar installers and Chinese manufacturers are lobbying to convince the ITC to reject SolarWorld’s complaint, claiming that SolarWorld’s actions are protectionist and only intent on raising solar prices for their own gain. CASE argues that if SolarWorld wins, that a German manufacturer will be dictating U.S. trade policy.

SEIA: Can’t We All Get Along?

As it stands now, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), which is investigating the claim for the ITC, will make a preliminary decision on March 28th on whether Chinese modules are being subsidized. Then on June 11th, the DOC will report whether the panels are also being dumped on the U.S. market at unfair below-market prices, perhaps causing an additional tariff.

But before those decisions are made, SEIA is trying to bring the parties together for a settlement. As part of the SEIA proposal, the U.S. will drop all tariffs on Chinese panel manufacturers and China will drop all tariffs on U.S. polysilicon companies.

Perhaps more significantly, Chinese manufacturers will be required to pay a fee into a Solar Manufacturing Settlement Fund to support U.S. solar panel manufacturers. How much? The complicated fee structure will be based on both U.S. solar consumption, the amount of Chinese solar imports, and other factors, but SEIA says the fee will be lower than the current cost of importing solar cells from Taiwan, making it a win-win for everyone.

If a settlement isn’t reached and new tariffs are set? Most experts agree that panel prices will increase, but it remains to be seen by how much and how that will affect installation prices and U.S. solar growth. Time will tell.

Original Article on Go Green Solar