Earlier this month, an American senator called on President Obama to hike taxes on solar panel imports coming from China. The move underscored what could be growing tension between Chinese and American companies often competing for the same dollar. The relationship may have gotten a bit rockier this past week as American Semiconductor accused Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sinovel of industrial espionage. The Massachusetts company, which recently went through a large round of layoffs, says the Beijing firm hired someone to expose its technology.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Solar Decathlon sets up shop this week on America’s National Mall in Washington, D.C. The biennial event draws collegiate teams from all over the United States, and various corners of the world. Team China from Togjii University has turned six shipping containers into a Y-shaped home. You can follow their progress at PlanetForward.com.
IN THE NEWS
Protest at Solar Factor: As many as 500 villagers in China’s Zhejiang province shut down JinkoSolar after three days of protests over pollution concerns. Demonstrators broke into offices and overturned cars over the death of a large number of fish in a local river.
But It’s Not All Bad: JinkoSolar announced today that it plans to sponsor the San Francisco 49ers, which includes placing signage on the scoreboard, LED message boards and a prominent ribbon panel. The company will also have exclusive branding rights to Gate F in Candlestick Park, which will be known as “JinkoSolar Gate” for the duration of the season.
Wind in the Ashes of a Quake: Japanese government officials have announced plans to build six, 2-MW floating wind turbines off the Fukushima coast in a demonstration project that could draw in some of the nation’s biggest companies and perhaps lead to economic and technological advancement for the growing floating offshore wind turbine industry.
Suzlon Sees Strong Demand for Wind Energy in China: Wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy could begin exporting Chinese-assembled turbines as early as next year. With the company expecting about a 40-percent increase in global revenue this year, Suzlon is also seeking a Chinese joint-venture partner to produce large turbines in China for the Chinese market.
Indian Company Signs Deal with Chinese Polysilicon Maker: IndoSolar and GCL-Poly Energy Holdings agree to a 4-year, $2 billion deal as the India cell maker plans to boost its production to 1 GW by 2015.
China’s Solar Investment: U.S. Department of Energy Executive Director Jonathan Silver is under pressure for his department’s loan to now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra. But he also is making a point to U.S. lawmakers about how much support China gives to its solar industry. According to Silver, China’s investment is 20 times larger than the U.S. over the same period of time.
Offshore Off South Korea: South Korea is investing $8.4 billion to bring a 2.5 GW offshore wind development to its coast in a move that could benefit Hyundai and Samsung, and help them challenge Siemens and Vestas in the emerging offshore market.
WHERE THE GROWTH IS
Gassing Up on Energy: We all know China has a growing appetite for energy. For renewables, that has mostly meant wind, hydro and now solar. But the country is increasingly looking toward biofuels to quench its thirst.
Biodiesel Report: The Worldwatch Institute says that Asia produced 12 percent of the world’s biodiesel in 2010, a 20 percent jump from 2009. The region’s is led by palm oil production in Indonesia and Thailand.
Biomass Taking Root: Over the past five years, there have been nearly 800 biomass power plants that have come online worldwide, with a total capacity of 8,700 MW. According to a Fraunhofer-led study, Asia appears ready to surpass Europe over the next five years in the number of new plants and added capacity.
A Man With a $26 Billion Plan: Masayoshi Son is Japan’s richest resident, and he’s thinking big with a proposal for a 1,200-mile long supergrid that would will deliver 60 percent of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources
A Government Without a Plan?: Energy experts say that for Japan to truly replaces its nuclear capacity with renewable energy, the government needs to enact clear and ambitious targets. According to Reuters, Japan’s trade and energy ministry is mulling setting the purchase price for renewable energy between 15 and 20 yen per kilowatt of electricity and the duration of purchases at 15 to 20 years.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Company Apologizes: “Zhejiang Jinko has always paid a great deal of attention to environmental issues and complies with and follows the state’s relevant demands. In the course of doing so, this incident still happened, and we cannot shirk responsibility for the legal consequences which have come from management slips.”
— Jing Zhaohui, Jinko Solar spokesman about water pollution associated with his company’s plant in China
BY THE NUMBERS
159: Gigawatts of total energy generation in India for a population of 1.1 billion. China has 1.3 billion residents, but has significantly more energy capacity at 860 GW. India is looking to solar and wind as a way to catch up.
53: Percentage increase of world energy consumption from 2008 to 2035, according to a new report. China and India are expected to lead the growth of new demand, and the mix of renewables is projected to grow from 10 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2035.
$100 million: Size of Asian Development Bank loan to build a substation and smart grid transmission lines that would support a 500-MW solar project in western India.
15: Percent of land in Malaysia dedicated to palm oil production. According to some estimates, energy derived from the byproduct could produce 20 percent of the country’s power needs.
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