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Asia Report: World Takes Hard Look at India Grid, Promises of Solar

Suddenly, the world is intrigued by India's unstable grid and the role solar can play in providing solutions for a country desperately in need of a new energy strategy.

India has in recent months been laying the groundwork to eventually become a major solar market, but the process has gone slower than expected. Sometimes markets develop methodically over many years, and other times they are jolted into urgency. Japan needed a major nuclear crisis to realign its priorities. And now it looks like India received its wake-up call in the form of a massive power outage that affected more than 600 million of its residents.

That in turn has drawn intense media coverage as major new organizations bring focus to India’s structural problems. Many of the stories have focused on the roots and challenges of India’s piecemeal energy system. Others point to the need for a massive overhaul of a grid that has become increasingly incapable of serving the 24/7 need of its growing urban population.

Regardless of where you look in India, solar power has taken a prominent seat at the table for a country eager to continue its economic momentum. And while it’s true that most of the conversation has been about how solar and better infrastructure could provide more stability, much of the new reporting is taking readers to those remote villages where off-grid solar is quietly increasingly quality of life and productivity.

This past week, Mahesh Bhave of the Indian Institute of Management wrote about the need to refocus some of the attention on the role distributed generation plays in creating economic stability.

There are several solar energy solutions. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is mostly focused on using solar energy, like any other fuel source, to feed the grid. Typically, this is through concentrated solar solutions, and recently through photovoltaic panels due to price drops. Solutions that feed power to the grid are important, but they only augment an over-stressed grid — they do not help the millions without any grid power. The Ministry mostly ignores distributed generation, the solar self-sufficiency solutions like rooftop panels or community grids.


IN THE NEWS

U.S. Imposes Tariffs on Chinese, Vietnamese Wind Towers: The U.S. Commerce Department set tariffs as high as 73 percent on imports of wind towers from China and as much as 60 percent on similar goods from Vietnam, adding further restrictions on clean-energy imports from Asia.

Philippines Introduces Feed-in Tariffs: The Energy Regulatory Commission in the Philippines has approved feed-in tariffs (FITs) that apply to renewable energy generation sources such as hydro (run–of–river), biomass, wind and solar.

Italian Road to Suntech Fraud Paved With Warnings: A major lender to China's Suntech Power Holdings, a solar panel maker which has been stung by a $690 million fraud linked to its expansion in Italy, financed the expansion despite warnings from a business ally to avoid Italy's scam-ridden solar sector, reports Reuters.

SolarWorld Among 20-Plus Manufacturers to File EU Complaint: A SolarWorld coalition of European-based manufacturers officially filed a trade complaint in Brussels late Wednesday, eliciting a strong response from leading Chinese manufacturers and setting the stage for a process that could further shake up the global solar industry.


A LOOK AHEAD

A ‘Third Way” Approach on U.S.-China Solar Trade: Industry veteran Ron Kenedi presents his thoughts of a “third way” of moving forward for the benefit of the solar power customer and industry participant:  Foster collaboration between U.S. and Chinese entities that lead to jointly owned factories in the U.S. that service the domestic market. The Chinese makers want access to the U.S. market and the U.S. market needs investment and the ability to create more jobs. Let the Chinese use Chinese-made cells — without penalty tariffs — if deployed in U.S.-assembled modules. Encourage the Chinese solar industry to invest in U.S. factories that produce solar products “made in the USA.”

Offshore Wind Industry to Take Off in China’s Fujian Province: China's Fujian province, with some of the richest offshore wind power resources in the country, has been a hotspot for domestic wind turbine makers. State-owned firms including Datang Group, China Huadian Corporation and China Longyuan Power, as well as province-level companies such as Fujian Investment and Development Group and Fujian Energy Group, have launched onshore or offshore wind power projects in the area.

Alstom’s Hydro Investment in China: Alstom, the world's third-largest power equipment maker, is boosting its investment in hydro power in China, as other renewable energy sectors such as wind and solar energy face a slowdown. Alstom Renewable Power, Alstom's division in charge of renewable power generation equipment and services, plans to establish a Global Technology Center in Tianjin, as part of a 100 million euro ($123 million) investment to upgrade Tianjin's hydro industrial facility — the largest such plant that Alstom has in operation.


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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

July 16-23, 2012 Asia Report: Japan Taps Into Promising Geothermal Potential
July 2-16, 2012 Asia Report: The Dawn on Japan’s Offshore Wind Era
June 25-July 2, 2012 Asia Report: Japan Enters Renewables Era With Major Developments
June 18-25, 2012 Asia Report: Toshiba Plans Japan’s Largest PV Plant
June 11-18, 2012 Asia Report: U.K.-Korea Unite Behind Offshore, Tidal Potential
June 4-11, 2012 Asia Report: As EU Trade Case Looms, Market May Shift East
May 21-29, 2012 Asia Report: China’s Solar Giants Unite to Confront Tariff

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