China cools solar power drive

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China has moved to curb new solar capacity. Above, Chinese fishermen casting a net next to a photovoltaic power station built on top of fish ponds in Yangzhou, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (AFP)
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China has moved to curb new solar capacity. Above, Chinese employees working on a floating solar power plant in Huainan, a former coal-mining region, in China’s eastern Anhui province. (AFP)
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China has moved to curb new solar capacity. Above, Chinese fishermen next to a photovoltaic power station built on top of fish ponds in Yangzhou, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (AFP)
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China has moved to curb new solar capacity. Above, Chinese fishermen next to a photovoltaic power station built on top of fish ponds in Yangzhou, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2019

China cools solar power drive

  • China announced last year that it would suspend new projects after a record 53 GW capacity increase in 2017 left it struggling to find spare grid capacity
  • China is also aiming to gradually phase out direct financial support to the solar industry after a decline in costs

SHANGHAI: China put just over 43 gigawatts (GW) of new solar generation capacity into operation in 2018, down 18 percent from a year earlier, an industry group said on Thursday, after a government move to curb new capacity and ease a subsidy payment backlog.
The new generation took the country’s total installed solar power capacity to more than 170 GW by the end of the year, the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) said.
China announced last year that it would suspend new projects after a record 53 GW capacity increase in 2017 left it struggling to find spare grid capacity and pay a renewable subsidy backlog amounting to more than 140 billion yuan ($20.69 billion) last year.
China is also aiming to gradually phase out direct financial support to the solar industry after a decline in costs, announcing last week that it would launch a series of new subsidy-free projects.

 

 But solar manufacturers are already feeling the pinch, and warned last year they were facing closure after a surge in new production capacity in previous years sent component prices plummeting.
“Facing a lot of complicated domestic and overseas trends, the sector as a whole is under big pressures and substandard producers are expected to promptly exit the market,” said Wang Bohua, CPIA vice-chairman, in a speech on Thursday.
Wang said output of solar equipment continued to increase in 2018 despite the decline in new domestic capacity, with solar module production up 14.3 percent to an equivalent of 85.7 GW.
Much of the surplus production was diverted to overseas markets, with solar component export earnings rising 10.9 percent from a year earlier to $16.11 billion, Wang said, according to a transcript published on CPIA’s official WeChat social media account.
China’s solar manufacturers have been accused of using subsidies to drive down prices and put foreign competitors out of business, but they claim they have been the beneficiary of a fierce competitive environment forcing them to reduce costs.
The US imposed tariffs on China’s solar products last year, and its share of China’s exports fell from 5.9 percent in 2017 to 0.24 percent in 2018. The bulk of China’s overseas shipments went to India, South East Asia and Europe.

FASTFACTS

170 gigawatts — China’s total installed solar power capacity


Africa development bank says risks to continent’s growth ‘increasing by the day’

Updated 18 August 2019

Africa development bank says risks to continent’s growth ‘increasing by the day’

  • The trade dispute between US and China has roiled global markets and unnerved investors
  • African nations need to boost trade with each other to cushion the impact of external shocks

DAR ES SALAAM: The US-China trade war and uncertainty over Brexit pose risks to Africa’s economic prospects that are “increasing by the day,” the head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) told Reuters.
The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies has roiled global markets and unnerved investors as it stretches into its second year with no end in sight.
Britain, meanwhile, appears to be on course to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 without a transition deal, which economists fear could severely disrupt trade flows.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB, said the bank could review its economic growth projection for Africa — of 4 percent in 2019 and 4.1 percent in 2020 — if global external shocks accelerate.
“We normally revise this depending on global external shocks that could slowdown global growth and these issues are increasing by the day,” Adesina told Reuters late on Saturday on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community meeting in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
“You have Brexit, you also have the recent challenges between Pakistan and India that have flared off there, plus you have the trade war between the United States and China. All these things can combine to slow global growth, with implications for African countries.”
The bank chief said African nations need to boost trade with each other and add value to agricultural produce to cushion the impact of external shocks.
“I think the trade war has significantly impacted economic growth prospects in China and therefore import demand from China has fallen significantly and so demand for products and raw materials from Africa will only fall even further,” he said.
“It will also have another effect with regard to China’s own outward-bound investments on the continent,” he added, saying these could also affect official development assistance.
Adesina said a continental free-trade zone launched last month, the African Continental Free Trade Area, could help speed up economic growth and development, but African nations needed to remove non-tariff barriers to boost trade.
“The countries that have always been facing lower volatilities have always been the ones that do a lot more in terms of regional trade and do not rely on exports of raw materials,” Adesina said.
“The challenges cannot be solved unless all the barriers come down. Free mobility of labor, free mobility of capital and free mobility of people.”