PV firms go green with solar farms

Updated: 2014-09-03 07:24

By Lyu Chang(China Daily)

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PV firms go green with solar farms

Workers install solar panels in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. Chinese solar panel producers are pinning their hopes on rising domestic demand for alternative energy. GENG YUHE/CHINA DAILY

China's solar panel makers are pinning their hopes on rising demand for solar power generating greenhouses at home even as their profits have been beaten down by new tariffs abroad.

"Domestic demand for photovoltaic greenhouse roofs will breathe new life into Chinese solar panel manufacturers that are suffering heavy losses in the US and European markets," said Zhu Zhiguo, president of Trina Solar Ltd's Module Business Unit, at a solar forum in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province.

He said a new type of solar greenhouse roof will become a trend in China's northeastern region due to the local governments' support as well as the rich agricultural resources there, although it is still at an early stage.

Trina, which is listed on the US New York Stock Exchange, is expanding into China's northeast provinces, including Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.

The Jiangsu-based company has partnered with Shenyang Agricultural University to conduct research and development in the local solar market.

Trina's move is part of a national push toward distributed solar generation. Earlier this month, Wu Xinxiong, head of the National Energy Administration, told a meeting in Zhejiang province that Beijing will focus on supporting the development of so-called distributed solar power projects to be built on abandoned land, lakes, fishponds and greenhouses.

The policy will also encourage distributed solar power to be generated at industrial and commercial companies with large rooftops.

The push may help China reach its target of 12 gigawatts of new installed solar generation for 2014, with 8 GW of distributed generation and 4 GW in utility-scale facilities that are eligible for subsidies and may spur orders for solar panels.

The solar greenhouse projects have already attracted the attention of firms that have suffered from anti-dumping tariffs and countervailing duties in the US, and similar tariffs that are being discussed in the EU.

Trina installed a demonstration solar farm on rooftops at Shenyang Agricultural University.

And Yingli Solar has supplied 3 megawatts of solar photovoltaic modules at a demonstration project for distributed generation in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

Piao Zailin, a former dean and professor at the College of Information and Electrical Engineering at Shenyang Agricultural University, predicted the solar power generating roof will gain popularity in the northeastern region.

Shandong province, one of China's largest agricultural areas, is taking the lead in solar generation. Jimo, a city in Shandong, has 33 hectares of "solar power greenhouses".

"Other places such as Liaoning are also realizing the benefits of solar power greenhouses," Piao said. "Many photovoltaic enterprises are building the greenhouses in a bid to save land resources as well as create new jobs."