Sino-German Solar Workshop assembles solar experts from China and Germany


One of the biggest solar trade fairs worldwide, 8th International Solar Industry & Photovoltaic Exhibition (SNEC) 2014, took place in Shanghai during May 20-22. econet china took the occasion to enhance Sino-German cooperation in the field by co-organizing the 4th Sino-German Cooperation Workshop on Solar PV Industry on May 21st together with China Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA). Speakers included high-level decision makers from government and industries, who presented detailed and up-to-date insights into both countries' solar industries.

"We believe that the Sino-German relationship in the solar industry should be shaped by cooperation rather than competition", asserted Mr. Christoph Angerbauer, General Manager of the German Industry & Commerce Shanghai, in his welcome speech. Mrs. Tang Wenqian, Deputy Secretary General of the China Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) followed his line, emphasizing that cooperation with German companies is very important for the Chinese solar industry. The Chinese solar market is currently focusing on distributed PV, which provides great market opportunities for German solar companies with experience in the field.

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Mr. Christoph Angerbauer, General Manager of German Industry & Commerce Shanghai.

Mr. Eckhart Gouras, managing editor of the Chinese edition of the PV Magazine, guided the participants through the program. He firstly introduced Mr. Wang Bohua, Secretary General of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance, who gave a speech analyzing "China's Status Quo and Policy on PV Industry". According to the National Energy Administration, China had installed 12.9 GW solar power capacity by the end of 2013 and has a huge potential for the distributed solar PV power generation. He said that he was optimistic for the Chinese solar market despite the volatilities it had faced since the year 2008. He emphasized that the intensive change in the political framework is a first step towards improving development. One goal of the Chinese government following the policy changes is to integrate and restructure less competitive solar companies, since overcapacity still is a problem. Mr. Wang moreover noted that China is now trying to become self-sufficient in the development of high-tech solar technologies and be more competitive, innovative and sustainable globally. An industry association for the Chinese solar companies will officially be founded in the 2nd Semester to facilitate further development.


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Mr. Wang Bohua, Secretary General of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance.

Following Mr. Wang, Mr. Tobias Rothacher, Senior Manager for Renewable Energies & Resources, German Trade & Invest, gave an overview over the European and the German PV Market. In 2013, 70 percent of solar systems in Germany were installed on roof-tops, indicating a growing market for German households generating their own power, which also shows a tendency in China. Looking into the future, Mr. Rothacher therefore believes that the market for energy storage has great potential. This may also provide business opportunities for German companies in China, where distributed PV Generation is becoming increasingly important.

Challenges do however remain for the Chinese distributed PV sector. Mr. Cui Jian, Deputy General Manager of Sinoma International PV Engineering in his speech emphasized financing as an issue, arguing that it is still very difficult for distributed PV projects in China to receive loans due to a lack of guarantees and uncertain incomes.
Mr Cui mentioned more challenges: Small companies in China on average survive in the market for only 2.5 years, yet 3 to 4 years can pass until revenue from a distributed PV system is received. Another issue is the fact that grid companies delay the payment for the PV generated electricity to private companies or households up to one year. The quality of Chinese rooftops, which are not always stable enough for the heavy solar systems, is another problem. Additionally, maintenance costs for distributed PV can be quite high. Improvements can moreover be made in the formulation of technical standards and the simplification of the application process for distributed PV systems. Mr. Cui concluded that although he is optimistic about the development of the distributed PV market in China in the long-run, it is still a long way to go to marketed finance process.

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Speakers (from left to right) Mr. Cui Jian, Deputy GM Sinoma; Mr. Miguel Laburu, Manager Tuev Rheinland; Mrs. Tang Wenqian, Deputy Secretary General CREIA and Mr. Tobias Rothacher, GTAI.

Mr. Miguel Laburu, manager of Solar and fuelcell technology at Tuev Rheinland subsequently talked about "Technical Support to Insurance Solution of PV Power Plants from the Third Party". He emphasized that Tuev Rheinland is closely working together with insurance companies when it comes to risk management. Monitoring and risk control consulting are fields in which the Chinese solar market offers good market opportunities for German companies.

In the last speech, Mr. Nick Duan, PV analyst from Bloomberg New Energy presented an overview on the Chinese PV market and gave insights into the Distributed PV markets in China, Germany and the US. He agreed with the other experts that financing remains a challenge on the Chinese market for distributed PV. Mr. Duan proposed that an Investment Tax Credit could possibly be introduced in China. It already exists in the US and has successfully been applied there.

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Mr. Nick Duan, PV analyst from Bloomberg New Energy.

A moderated panel discussion was lead by Mrs. Tang Wenqian at the end of the workshop. Mr. He Qingzhi, Excutive director from IBC, and Mr. Thomas Liu, founder of Solarzoom joined as panelists together with the speakers. Solutions for the financing of distributed PV power in China were creatively debated; Mr. Gouras' suggestion to target Chinese villa owners was well received by the other panelists. Mr Rothacher mentioned the program of the German KfW Bank as an example for successful financing.

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Debate during the panel discussion. Moderator Mrs. Tang Wenqian with panelists Mr. Tobias Rothacher, Mr. He Qingzhi, Mr. Thomas Liu, Mr. Cui Jian, Mr. Miguel Laburu, Mr. Nick Duan, Mr. Eckhart Gouras (from left to right).

Solutions for financing of distributed PV have to be found quickly, since China is facing rapid growth in the area of rooftop PV installations. The government's current target is the installation of 8 Gigawatt of distributed PV power within 2014. China recently announced even more ambitious targets for the future: It is planning to increase installed solar capacity up from 20 GW to 70 GW by 2017. The panelists therefore agreed that the Chinese solar market will remain promising within the coming years, opening excellent new business opportunities for both Chinese and German companies.

Please click here to read our interview with Mr. Eckhart Gouras on the development of the Chinese solar sector.

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