By Wang Yichen
In recent years, solar energy, with the development and utilization scale expanded fast, the technological progress and industrial upgrading quickened and the cost going significantly lowered, has become a main field for global energy transformation. As shown in the 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Solar Energy launched by National Energy Administration recently, the installed capacity of solar power generation will reach 110 million kilowatts or above by the end of 2020, wherein, that of the photovoltaic (PV) power generation will reach 105 million kilowatts or above and that of solar thermal power generation 5 million kilowatts. Experts said that the 13th Five-Year Plan period will be a key stage to the development of solar industry, and the main tasks are to realize industrial upgrading, cost reduction, application expansion and market-oriented self-continuous improvement not relying on the state subsidies.
Promoting distributed PV power generation
In the 12th Five-Year Plan period, China witnessed hundreds of times of growth in installed capacity of PV power generation and became the first PV power in the world. However, a series of consumption and absorption problems came into being at the same time as the rapid rising of PV installed capacity owed to the construction of centralized surface power stations in the west China mainly.
Therefore, it is an inevitable choice to promote the development of distributed PV power generation vigorously in the 13th Five-Year Plan period. According to the Plan, 100 distributed PV application demonstration areas will be established by 2020 and the 80 percent of new building roofs and 50 percent of existing building roofs within the areas will be used for PV power generation. All industrial parks, economic development zones, large industrial and mining enterprises and such public buildings as malls, schools and hospitals with development conditions shall be under unified planning and implementation of roof PV engineering. Residential roof PV engineering shall also be introduced to rural areas and small towns with excellent solar energy resources and sound grid access and absorption conditions, forming several PV towns and PV new villages.
"The reason for sunlight abandon and limiting electrical output is mainly attributable to the imbalance of PV construction in the east and west." Wang Chuanbang, president of Znshine Solar, said it's easy to cause the phenomenon of electricity over generation due to weak industrial base and limited consumption and absorption capacity in the western area as well as most traditional thermal power units there and imperfect construction of grid and other supporting facilities. No doubt that the distributed power generation development will be promoted further since distributed PV is listed as a development priority in the Plan. Instead of being limited to industrial and commercial roofs, distributed PV can be extended to agricultural PV, household distributed applications, etc.
In terms of the expansion of "PV+" multi-purpose project, related official of National Energy Administration said that they will encourage to carry out various "PV+" application projects according to circumstances in combination with the comprehensive utilization of barren mountains, virgin lands and coastal mud flat, governance of mining subsidence areas and other waste lands, facility agriculture, fishery breeding and other modes so as to promote the organic integration of PV power generation with other industries and develop new ways for land value-added exploitation via PV power generation. All PV and agricultural integration development models able to improve agricultural benefits will be explored and the establishment of PV power stations with modern efficient agricultural facilities is encouraged.
Carrying out various poverty alleviation through PV
Featuring safe and stable economic benefits, obviously effective energy conservation and emissions reduction, low operational and maintenance cost, etc., PV power generation also shows targeted advantage in terms of targeted poverty alleviation especially in the support of disable impoverished people, thus becoming one of important forms gradually recent years for poverty alleviation in China.
As early as in October 2016, NEA issued the first batch of PV anti-poverty project with a total scale of 5.16 million kilowatts, wherein village PV power stations covered a total of 2.18 million kilowatts, centralized surface power stations covered a total of 2.98 million kilowatts, and about 20,000 poor villages in 14 provinces such as Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, Anhui and Jiangxi were involved.
In spite of the positive achievements of PV poverty alleviation under the impetus of national policies, there are still many practical problems in actual promotion. In the opinion of Wang Chuanbang, the first is that the grid infrastructure is weak and power load is relatively low in Chinese poor rural areas and the second is that rural areas are lack of project development professionals, resulting in that any component or line faults once occurring after PV power stations are established will influence generating capacity and cause loss in revenue.
"Though China encourages the construction of village power stations for PV poverty alleviation, the requirements for village power stations to access to grid is too low; suitable and satisfactory lands or roofs are also rare for installation." admitted Qian Jing, vice president of Jinko Solar, " PV projects for poverty alleviation without quality guarantee will not only fail to benefit the people but also cause accident damage or economic loss."
Industrialization of solar thermal power generation
Along with the launch of the first batch of demonstration projects and the issuance of demonstrative electricity price, there is no doubt that the prospective solar thermal power generation industry will become the highlight in the using field of solar energy in the 13th Five-Year Plan period. The Plan has made it clear that in the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the cost of solar thermal power generation will be lower than 0.8 yuan/KWH, the efficiency of solar thermal power generation will be enhanced considerably and the capability to integrate a whole industrial chain will be formed.
China has seen great breakthrough in terms of the technologies and equipment for solar thermal power generation in the 12th Five-Year Plan period. Not only the 1 MW solar thermal power generation technologies and system demonstration project was established in 2012 but also the first 10 MW tower solar thermal power generation unit under commercial operation was put into operation in 2013.
However, it is also an indisputable fact that the capability of industrialization of Chinese solar thermal power generation is relatively weak. At present, Chinese solar thermal power generation has not yet been put into large-scale application, is lack of experience in design, construction, operation, maintenance and other links, whose independent technical ability is weak in respect of core components and devices and industrial chain remains to be further improved. At the same time, solar thermal power generation costs more than other renewable energies, facing high pressure to speed up the promotion of technical level and reduce costs.
The large-scale development of industries related to solar energy utilization will vigorously promote the transformation of local economic development. According to the expectation of experts, the contribution of solar industry to Chinese economic output will break through one trillion yuan in the 13th Five-Year Plan period. In detail, the contribution of solar power industry to Chinese economic output will reach RMB 600 billion yuan, creating an economic demand of more than RMB 120 billion yuan each year on average and driving the development of such industries as electronic industry, new materials, high-end manufacturing and the Internet synchronously.