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
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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


New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

Updated 57 min 38 sec ago
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New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

  • Huawei faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government
  • Several Western countries had restricted Huawei’s access to their markets

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will independently assess the risk of using China’s Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei’s access to their markets.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said Britain’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.
New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.
At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
“The ball is now in their court,” she told a weekly news conference.
Ardern said New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would conduct its own assessment.
“I would expect the GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she said.
Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
“We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB,” Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie said in an emailed statement.
The Huawei decision, along with the government’s tougher stance on China’s growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner.
Ardern’s planned first visit to Beijing has faced scheduling issues, and China last week postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch.
Ardern said her government’s relationship with China was strong despite some complex issues.
“Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship they are only one small part of it,” she said, adding that trade and tourism ties remained strong.